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Inside Alpha Robinson’s NAWEC 

Jun 16, 2020, 12:34 PM | Article By: Amadou Jallow

Gambia’s water and electricity power-house, NAWEC has been on public test for its failure to provide stable water and electricity supply systems despite the numerous change of leadership.

The company is under public criticism with daily poor rating in their service delivery for the past few years. Its generators, some of which have been running since the country’s independence, are run by heavy fuel which takes significant amount from its budget.

The current managing director, Alpha Robinson who came to office in July 2019 is said to have found several financial mismanagements but between July and December, he was able to control the mismanagement; the company was losing nearly 5 million dalasis on unnecessary travels.

A source close to the company told this reporter that Mr. Robinson was welcomed with open arms by nearly 90 percent of the company’s staff when he was appointed, with hope that he would change the lot of the employees. "This man wants to work to restructure the company but he is being challenged by some unscrupulous staff," the source said.

Annually, NAWEC spends millions of dalasis on heavy fuel and maintenance of generators. It also spends millions on travel while the public continues to criticise it for poor service delivery.

Last week, the company was fined three million, five hundred thousand dalasis by the Public Utility and Regulatory Authority (PURA) for poor water service delivery in its provincial water treatment plants. The authority said the company failed to comply with its directives to improve water quality in the provinces.

Our sources said Mr. Robinson was open to every staff at first but when he suspected that there were some people trying to bring him down, he changed everything. "Now he is his own driver and his own caterer because he has come to realise that he is being followed."

The source, however, added that Mr. Robinson now intends to introduce a ten percent staff salary increment which has been approved by the NAWEC board.. "The salary grading system is poor because the gap between staff is too wide. Those who are between categories A to D are the ones enjoying, with car loan, fuel coupons and building loan. From E to HO are the ones doing the hardest job and receiving little." He said that is unfair.

The source said when Mr. Robinson assumed duty, he went through all the activities and planned to address them but he was blocked from doing that.

Staff welfare

NAWEC employees are said to be some of the most vulnerable in the country because of the lack of motivation. Like many other government offices, some of the company staff have turned petty traders while some are taxi drivers and others on other jobs. "This is what is leading to the increased fuel theft and minor corruption at the company because of the low motivation."

According to the source, with all the problems the employees are facing at NAWEC, the company established a staff association which was initiated by former managing director Abdou Jobe in 2010 with one hundred dalasis contribution from each staff deducted at source every month. "This amounted to nearly 19 million dalasis different from the programmes they conduct and the consumer shop. All these were targeted to improve employees’ welfare but unfortunately, things went otherwise when Abdou Jobe left the office.

Power outage

According to the sources, the frequent power outage is done by some disgruntled staff who hav served for long without being promoted. The source also revealed that fuel theft is increasing in the provinces because the provincial director only sits in the office and would only go to the provinces during tours or presidential tours.

Administrative lapses before Robinson

Our source further said there is a free administrative system within NAWEC with lateness rampant while some staff have over stayed in their posting, particularly those in the provinces. "There is no proper attendance registration and command and control. After Abdou Jobe, there has not been any annual general meeting and no departmental meeting. No one is briefed about the company’s direction.

He said lack of proper administration is leading to splitting of the company into sections. Transmission and distribution have their own association. Kotu power station, water and commercial divisions all have their own associations. "This is all due to administrative lapses. This is because the main association that has been existing for ten years now is not benefiting the staff."

Recommendation

The source said most of the power generating machines at NAWEC are old and need to be replaced. He recommended that the company should now move from using heavy fuel to renewable energy.

"If the managing director wants to succeed, he should associate himself with the sidelined staff because they are the ones doing the whole work. He must not fear, both physically and spiritually. He should come down to the junior staff."

He said to address the frequent petty theft of fuel, the company must introduce staff rotating system every year or two which can drastically reduce theft.

"We need a massive reform at the human resource and administrative departments whereby command and control will be effectively observed. To solve late coming, the company should move from manual registration of staff to electronic. That will control late coming and unnecessary absence."

He also recommend that annual general and departmental meetings must be observed and respected without which most of the employees, particularly new comers will not understand the company’s direction. "Ninety-five percent of the staff does not know the company’s direction."

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