New Direction Government has woefully failed the people of Sierra Leone in many critical sectors of the economy. But, the most disgraceful failure is seen in the unreliable supply of energy to households, factories, industries, streets and other places.
In terms of energy supply, Sierra Leone is far behind such countries as Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Togo and other West African countries with small economies. Promises of revamping the energy sector made by SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) three years ago have turned into mere campaign rhetorics.
After three years of state governance, the promises are yet to be transformed into realities. Freetown, the nation’s capital still struggles with low energy supply. Other provincial cities Bo, Makeni, Kenema and PortLoko face similar challenge.
The deafening noises of generators in offices in Freetown is a testimony to power outage. Factories and industries too use their own generators to power their operations. Most investors have threatened to pull out owing to the horrible energy situation in the country.
Potential investors find the country’s economy less attractive to invest. The energy supply is erratic in a city with the highest energy potentials. The city of Freetown has fine rivers and oceans which, if utilized well, brings tremendous energy potentials to the country.
But, the reverse occurs. Repeated interviews have shown that the energy supplier, EDSA (Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority) cannot tell the exact amount of megawatts the country prides in. It is however clear that Sierra Leone has low megawatts owing to the termination of several energy contracts.
The Karpowership Agreement previously entered into by the past government has been terminated. Reports say, government is now with talks with the company to restore the deal. Doubts and suspicions hang on the government as to whether the agreement would be revamped.
No evidence exists that point out to work done on the Bumbuna Hydro-Power Project by the current. The project is still at the stage where it was left by the Koroma administration. Should phase-two embarked on and completed, the energy problem would have been solved.
In the southern city of Bo, it could take more than a week to see light there. Prolonged absence of light creates condition for damage to electrical appliances. Freezers remain opened for weeks if not for days in most homes.
Those with the means can afford generators to take care of their energy needs. Those without the means go without. A resident in Sam Mamie Section in Bo city, Rugiatu Bangura previously admitted that the southern city had the worst energy situation in the country.
Madam Bangura made it clear that Bo city could go for weeks without light. “It is a terrible situation for us in this part of the country. We rely on light to for business. The money we get from our freezers could be used to provide for other needs at home,” Madam Bang ura says.
Since light supply is unreliable, most homes like Rugiatu’s home could not save much. No supplementary income means less earnings for households. Energy- related hardship goes out of homes to Internet cafes and telecentres.
Morrison Aruna operates an internet Cafe off Kissy Town Road, Bo. At the time this press visited the cafe, no customer was found there. Aruna sat alone with his eyes fixed to his old computer. He depends on an aged electricity generator to supply him energy.
The generator is sounded when a customer arrives. Putting it on is painstaking, but he has to so that he could realize little proceeds. Aruna told this press that in the APC days, they wailed for change but the change he has proved to be futile. “Now, we need another government to save us from drowning,” he lamented.
Aruna went on to state that we were carried away by SLPP propaganda to opt for change of government. “We expect that this government would have saved us from hardship, but it has failed,” he said in deep sadness.
He said we would no longer vote on regional and party lines, but we vote for development. The northern capital of Makeni which used to enjoy a relatively reliable electricity is now in darkness. Light is now being rationed in the northern city.
The rationing, no doubt, would leave most homes without electricity for days. A resident of Makeni, Umaru Kamara told this press that EDSA embarked on a replacement of worn-out transformers. The issue of old transformers is one that the energy supplier had been with for decades.
Despite their frequent repairs, the problem hardly goes. But, arguments on the other side cited the contrary. Makeni, the home of former President, Ernest Bai Koroma had always been a target for destruction by the New Direction. Despite spate of killings the town has seen in recent times, government now embarks on a clandestine campaign to get light off from the city.
It started slightly over a year ago when a thermal plant was forcefully removed from Makeni to Lungi in the same north. Several youths were fatally injured when they attempted to block the forceful removal.
Government was totally condemned and vilified for such illegal action. The machine was taken away, but tragic stories remain to be told. It was bold move to delete the Koroma legacies, but in the process they destroy themselves (New Direction members).
PortLoko, the north-western capital too was recently badly affected by frequent power outages. Normalcy in the light situation is gradually returning to the new city. The 2018 SLPP Manifesto also known as the ‘People’s Manifesto’ took a strong position on the provision of energy in Sierra Leone.
In Page-76, the manifesto noted that SLPP Government’s objective to provide energy in sufficient quantities to all regions of the country. The move is to permit the sustained realization of development goals. To realize this important aim, New Direction, in 2018, pledged to restore electricity supply to all district capitals, initiate a rural electrification programme, set up a rural electricity board and a rural electricity fund to promote electrification of rural areas.
The manifesto also noted that every year, at least, five villages and towns in every district join the national grid or connected off-grid on stand-alone solar or mini-hydro-schemes.
New Direction said in its manifesto that it will ensure massive investment in the country’s renewable energy potentials in the areas of solar, hydro, wind and biomass, promote the use of renewable and modern forms of energy like liquefied Petroleum and Gas.
The start of mini-hydro and solar energy schemed would encouraged under the New Direction. Special financial incentives to companies will be provided by New Direction according to the manifesto. The promises contained in the manifesto are too enormous to be explored. None of the foundation for the realization of promises had been laid.
The failure portrayed the Bio administration as a government of good writers only. The government seems very weak at implementation.
A view at the critical commentary of the past government contained in the manifesto is nothing but mere lies and propaganda. New Direction manifesto canvassed the people of Sierra Leone to believe that between 2007 and 2012, APC (All People’s Congress) spent huge resources on electricity estimated at US$300M.
Yet, total electricity generated is barely 80MW far below the target of 1, 000MW by 2018 in the ‘Agenda for Prosperity.’ Close to four years, the New Direction, no gainsaying, has proved itself to be the weakest government in post-independent Sierra Leone.
See next edition.