A historical crisis NAWEC should learn from

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Today November 23 marks 40 years anniversary of the beginning of the Gambia energy crisis. It was 23 November 1977 (Tobaski Day) that then Gambia Utility Corporation’s (GUC) electricity generating machines were blown off in Banjul, precisely at Half Die.

The circumstances of the incidence were not established but another company took over electricity generation. This company call Management Service Gambia Limited (MSG) was maintained by a French company and later transformed into National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC).

During the first and second republics, many generators were procured, all of which are alleged to be old or secondhand machines. But none alleviate the crisis. The current energy crisis is obviously not new looking at the facts from the past forty (40) years the Gambia government is struggling to solve the crisis but no success.

However, emerging information indicates that the new government has promised that the energy crisis will by end of December 2017 be a thing of the past.

Already World Bank and Islamic Development Bank have provided funding for procurement of brand new generators. Also the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has joined the effort at finding lasting solution to the energy crisis.

There is likewise an agreement between NAWEC and SENELEC to assist the country in rural electrification. Now the North Bank and Lower River Regions enjoy 24 hour electricity supply. Starting from Amdalai to Barra electric poles are even now fixed with cables to get light by December and URR will follow according to official sources. These efforts are definitely a major step forward.

On 8 November 2017 in Brikama, the Vice President Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang laid laid the foundation for 20 megawatts plant which will be commissioned within eighteen months. Similarly, in Kotu Power Station, installation is ongoing for two additional generators of 6 megawatts which will be commissioned in December 2017, the second is the 12 megawatts due to be commissioned in February 2018.

We are hopeful that the combined efforts of donor agencies and friends of the Gambia will help to bring this long standing energy problem to an end.

Apart from the financial contributions and procurement of new machines, the Barrow administration should also seek technical assistance to resolve the energy crisis once and for all. Transfer of technical know how and adaptation of good practices will go a long way in motivating NAWEC employees and satisfied consumers of water and electricity.

Another issue that is of concern is the capacity of the staff that needs close attention and motivations. This is because in the past, the generators have blown off or poorly maintained. In certain instances spear parts were not available or late in arrival; and also the issues of stealing of fuel and deliberate and neglectful attitude towards work should not be tolerated.

However, NAWEC employees who fill that their salaries are too small so they will devise ways and means to illicitly enrich themselves should resign before the long arm of the law catches up with them.

We also stress the concern that public and private consumers of NAWEC services should endeavor to acquire cash meters and to pay their water bills on time. Meter readers should also be more precise and show commitment to their work rather extrapolating – something that is not fair.

Lunjankolon i ka a sino kumasi bii le – a (Madinka Proverb), meaning: Adequate planning is important in everything.