public outcry over current dissatisfaction surrounding the services of the
national electricity company (NAWEC), President Adama Barrow assured Gambians
that his government has a roadmap that will enable them fix the problem.
“The public are concerned, we are also concerned. This electricity problem remained unsolved for 50 years, and now we are here and we want to solve it,” Barrow told reporters after an hour’s tour of the country’s main power plant in Kotu on Friday.
He said NAWEC has been a concern to his government, which is why it is a “top priority.” His visit there was meant to assess the state of affairs of the power station.
A new Generator No. 8 landed at the power station a day before, and it will be up and running within a month, officials assured the President.
Generator No. 7 is also being assembled at the manufacturing plant as NAWEC officials assured that they just returned from inspecting its progress. It is expected to be in the country by end-October.
“I know it is a challenge to everybody, but the political will is there to solve the problem of NAWEC and the electricity problem in this country. Fundamentally, we believe in that,” Barrow said.
Dr. Hakim Muhammad, the consultant for the installation of the 11 megawatts new generator at Kotu said the works at the power station was 80% completed. “This means it is possible to have the generator running by February 2018.”
Dr. Hakim added that a second project at Brikama is in the pipeline to produce 20 megawatts electricity, which should be sufficient to meet the country’s power needs in the immediate term.
He also assured that the new power plant “is very good” – it has a stronger foundation (up to 20 meters deep in the ground). Such is necessary to withstand vibration, which easily causes tear and series of breakdowns, the consultant said.
Momodou Alieu Bah, the power generation manager at Kotu Power Station said the current project at the power plant began late last year and it is built by GTG and Tuzan. What is left is the installation of the engine and the operations between December and February.
“With that, we will have an additional capacity that we hope will be able to stabilise the system,” he said. This, he added, coupled with the Brikama Power Plant there will be stability in the power supplies.
“Over the years we have been on ‘firefighting’ and this has not taken us anywhere…. We would solve the problem and just within a few weeks or months, we will return back to where we were. Hence, the current efforts are targeting long- term solutions,” Bah said.
The power company currently produces only 35 megawatts when the national capacity requires up to 70. This is the reason why at any given time, at least half of the consumers are put off, as part of the load shedding strategy that caters for even distribution, Mr. Bah explained.