Residents told ‘electricity is not free’
July 25, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Energy has concluded an inspection tour of mini grid solar light installations at chiefdom health centres in Port Loko and Bombali districts, where they reminded residents to prepare their minds to pay for the service as “electricity supply is not free and that people who utilise the service must pay.”
Addressing residents in the respective chiefdoms, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Sulaiman M. Sisay, pleaded with them to be watchdogs of the facilities as ‘miscreants’ have been stealing some of the solar apparatus in other parts of the country.
“Make sure you take good care of these facilities. We can assess you by the way you handle it. And we will be able to tell whether you are ready for development in your communities,” he said.
The ruling All People’s Congress (APC) lawmaker urged residents to maintain and secure the facilities from thieves who could cart away the batteries, citing an incident of such nature in Port Loko.
“They were opportune to have it but they rather stole it and now they wallow in darkness. Please handle it with care. If you fail to support the project, there are other districts that need such opportunity. We will remove them here if you do not take good care of them,” he threatened.
Hon. Sisay commended the Ministry of Energy and United Nations Office for Project services (UNOPS) for supporting and implementing the project, noting that those communities have gone without electricity supply for over fifty years.
The Parliamentary Committee, together with senior officials from the Ministry of Energy and implementing partners, UNOPS), conducted the tour over the weekend to ascertain whether the targeted communities are benefitting from the project.
Early this month, lawmakers discussed a 34.5 million British pounds sterling support for the installation of mini grid solar energy for some fifty-four chiefdom health centres across the country as part of the sustainable energy and access to electricity supply by every Sierra Leonean efforts.
During that meeting, UNOPS and officials of the Energy Ministry told the committee that they had already installed few solar energy lights in some communities.
The committee visited Batkanu, Leibaigasehun Chiefdom, in the Bombali district, as well as Petifu and Conakry-Dee chiefdom health centres in the Port Loko district.
Speaking during the inspection tour, Director of Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy, Benjamin Kamara, explained that 26kw solar energy was installed at Petifu chiefdom health centre, adding that 20kw would provide electricity supply to the entire community, while the 6kw would serve the health centre.
He noted that the same method was replicated at the Conakry-Dee health centre.
At the Batkanu chiefdom health centre, Mr. Kamara said only 6kw had been installed and that foundation for the construction site of the 20kw solar energy has already begun.
Opposition lawmaker, Hon. Jusufu B. Mansaray, said they have been supporting government in the implementation of development projects, thus calling on community stakeholders, including youth and women to take great care of the facilities.
Meanwhile, a nurse at Batkanu community health centre, Sister Isha Kamara, expressed her appreciation to the government for implementing the ‘life saving’ project, adding that with the inception of the solar energy at the health centre, work would improve as nurses would stay at the centre overnight.