vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs, Aja Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang
on Wednesday on behalf of the Gambian leader presided over the laying of a
foundation stone for a 20 Mega Watts power station in Brikama in the West Coast
The project is funded by Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) as a second phase of a total project capacity of 30 MW, with The Gambia government counterpart funding. The first phase of 9 MW (Wartsila Set) was commissioned in 2011. The project is funded at a total cost of 25 million United States dollars and it is expected to be commissioned in 18-months time. However, the event came at a time when the country is faced with numerous challenges in energy and water supply, thus affecting all facets of national development.
In her keynote address on behalf of The Gambian leader, Aja Fatoumatta Tambajang Jallow recalled that for over half a century, since independence, the people of this country have patiently waited for a reliable supply of electricity and portable water to no avail.
“When we assumed power in January, we have vowed to end this waiting period. Today, my government is taking giant strides to deliver that promise. We are aware of our citizen’s sufferings and long painful waits for completion of projects. For many years, the energy crisis, has led many to lose faith in the commitment of leaders in this country to improving the lives of our people, and we know we are not an exception to this. I want to assure all Gambians that we remain true to our social contract of providing reliable and affordable electricity and portable drinking water to all without fail. We will ensure our people’s faith in government is renewed through the provision of these social amenities,” she added.
The government, she went on, prioritizes energy sector owing it to the fact that it is a foremost concern for the people. “It is the basis for wealth creation, employment and improvement on social service delivery. We shall leave no stone unturned to implement what our people want. We shall never relent in that crusade”.
She maintained that the government is aware of the enormity of the task ahead, in consideration of over two decades of misrule, misplaced policies and priorities, rampant looting of our public institutions as well as lack of transparency in public procurement.
She continued “Our focus is to embark on a reform agenda to enhance confidence in public service delivery. This will allow us to provide the strong foundation to implement our lofty policies and strategies for the development of all sectors of the economy. We hope to attract credible investors from the private sector to complement government’s efforts. We are ready to partner with investors, friendly nations, multi-lateral institutions and the people in our all-inclusive approach to development”.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Shola Joiner deputising for the chairman of the Board of Directors of NAWEC, said the day was both historic and significant to NAWEC. “It is historic because it is unprecedented in our history. It is also significant because it marks another step ahead in our drive to sufficiently increase our capacity to meet the electricity needs of the population”.
The managing director of NAWEC, Baba Fatajo affirmed that despite all the challenges and sometimes extremely difficult pressure to meet the demands of the population, they remain determined to pursue their path delineated by the road map.
“We as Management acknowledge the disenchantment and dissatisfaction of our dear customers, which we share with them. This unfortunate situation is a result of a culmination of inherited factors ranging from obsolete infrastructure due to lack of proper and adequate investments over the past several years, inadequate capacity, among others.”
For his part, Fafa Sanyang, the minister of Petroleum and Energy, disclosed that the Brikama Power Extension Project is the biggest single generation project ever undertaken by NAWEC and government of The Gambia.
The new power plant, he went on, comprises of two generating units of 10MW each, adding that It is expected to significantly address the acute generation gap of NAWEC, leading to excessive power rationing.
“Once completed, the 20MW additional capacity will enable NAWEC to ensure adherence to maintenance schedules of other engines thereby reducing pressure on them. We are also confident that NAWEC will make significant reduction on their maintenance cost with these engines in place. The government’s policy objectives for the energy sector will continue to be driven by measures that will ensure financial viability of NAWEC, diversification of the sources of energy (energy mix) through the promotion of renewable energy, among others. With these measures, government intends to also promote private sector investment through Independent Power Producers (IPPs)”.
Other speakers at the ceremony included, Faddy Mazigi, the contractor and Ebrima Mballow, the governor of the West Coast Region, who delivered the welcoming remarks.