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We were promised 24 hours electricity …

We were promised 24 hours electricity …

That was what they promised us, with the coming into office the New APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma – 24 hours uninterrupted electricity supply in Freetown and the environs

To achieve this goal and realize the President’s agenda for change, US$9million was knifed out of the $35 million UN Peace Building Fund for Sierra Leone just to address the age old problem in the energy sector. The focus was on Bumbuna. The Sulzas 4 and 5 machines were ageing; both the Mireless and Mitsubishi generators at Kingtom power station had disappointed Freetown residents.

In the wisdom of President Koroma and his government, only Bumbuna could bring life to the city. That was the expectation at the time, and many well-meaning compatriots threw their weight behind the President to ensure that Bumbuna becomes a reality, a dream that had eluded many past regimes.

With Bumbuna expectations were high; hopes were rekindled once more. No wonder when the first transmitter was ferried across the city from Lungi to the Kingtom power house in 2009 the city went wild and gay. There were scenes of jubilation, people poured out onto the streets of Freetown in a carnival-like celebration with men and women wearing T-Shirts bearing the Red symbol, chanting ‘bye-bye Kabbah tiger, welcome to Koroma electricity…’

The moment came when in November 2009 His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma switched on the generator at Bumbuna for the commencement of the first phase of power supply to Freetown. It was like heaven has come down on Mama Salone. The euphoria that greeted this historic moment was electrifying.

Sadly though, barely three months following the commissioning ceremony and the eventual supply of electricity to Freetown, Bumbuna started catching cold. The machines were quickly shut down for ‘routine maintenance’. By July when the heavy rainfall would have kept the turbines moving, the water level started causing problem for the turbines. The supply of electricity to Freetown started fluctuating to the dismay of domestic consumers – from 24 hours the supply became irregular or intermittent; in some areas it took days or weeks to get electricity in homes or workplaces.

These days if ever it comes it is as dull as a candle. The nick-name ‘candle light’ is now a popular phrase in most parts of the city, especially in the east end of the capital. The voltage is often so low that it cannot put on a fridge not to mention a freezer.

A lot of theories or excuses have been presented by the National Power Authority, excuses ranging from poor transformers to outdated transmission lines which are causing embarrassment for the government.

In fact, these days little is heard of Bumbuna. What we hear is that Freetown is currently powered from generators installed at Kingtom which were recently brought in to complement Bumbuna. What has happened to Bumbuna no one can tell, except the energy and power minister.

There is also the problem of metres. The old ones are no longer available, only those stolen from other towns and brought to Freetown for sale to unsuspecting consumers. In most cases these stolen metres are not in good working order.

The case of the pre-paid metre has become a nightmare. Customers who have paid for the metres months ago are yet to receive them. The few that have arrived are far less than the quantity paid for. The question now is who will get and who will have to wait? A recipe for corruption!

Papa minister, please we need electricity in our homes. Fifty years of our independence is around the corner. Except you want us to celebrate it in darkness, otherwise stop the talking now and give us 24 hours electricity you promised us. Act now!

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