Bribing NPA to perform
When President Ernest Bai Koroma assured this nation following his election victory in 2007, that he was going to inject new life into the blood stream of a dying nation by providing regular and uninterrupted electricity supply in the capital, Freetown, little did he realize that he was speaking from the wrong side of a genuine desire.
We all will agree that there has been an appreciable improvement in the supply of electricity to the capital since 2009 especially in the west end of the city which remains the hub of economic and social activities.
Honestly, we cannot in the same breadth say the same of the east-end which has not only witnessed an unprecedented theft of overhead cables that transmit power into the homes of consumers and other business places but where even the infrequent supply of electricity has been dismally poor and heart rendering.
In an area where I usually visit, in the eastern part of the city “Freetown” simply known as ‘Industrial Estate’ in Wellington, there has been countless number of thefts of electric cables by some unknown people and each time a line was stolen, those residents affected would have to dip into their pockets to replace the stolen cable.
Imagine the frustration of people, if every week a cable has to be removed by unknown persons and the poor consumers obliged to pay for a new one which in most cases is provided by NPA workers!
Interestingly, no one has ever been caught in the act in this part of Wellington and so the theft continues unabated. The thieves have had a field day since that area is constantly in darkness, including other vulnerable areas in that part of the city.
Our information, though not yet confirmed, is that at certain times of the week, the NPA men would deliberately switch off the lights in certain localities at night so that the rogues would cut the cables only for the same NPA workers to replace them the following day or week after some hefty hand shake from the affected residents.
I could remember early in February this year when people were asked to contribute the sum of Le50,000 (fifty thousand Leones) per household to buy a new cable to replace the one that had been stolen the previous night. We hurriedly paid the money because we needed light in our homes. But what we saw with our eyes was ridiculously incredible. No new cables but old or used ones that were joined together from one end to the other.
We got the light all the same, but we were amazed. We didn’t really know who the real cable thieves were! And this is done once every week or month. The lights would suddenly go off; the next morning the cables have disappeared!
That is beside the issue of the electric cables. The most disheartening thing that is happening to residents of the Industrial Estate and its immediate environs, and I’m sure other areas are experiencing same, is the poor quality of light NPA supplies to consumers in the east end of Freetown, especially the Industrial Estate area.
By way of explanation, the industrial estate is a mismatch for a settlement around the immediate location of some of our major factories in the country including the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, NATCO (National Confectionery Company) and financial institutions such as the Standard Chartered Bank, etc.
This ‘Industrial Estate’ is among the most backward communities in Wellington bordering Calaba Town and Loko Town. Beside the erratic power supply, the estate lacks pipe borne water, with no paved or access roads, no health a or education facility, etc. Yet we continue to call it ‘industrial estate’.
As for the poor power supply, we have been told, through hearsay, that the problem lies with the transformers. “The transformers are not good”, they will tell us, but since 2007 nothing has been done to change the so-called old transformers and replace them with new ones
So each time NPA switches on its light, we’ll be in semi darkness. One resident often describes it as ‘pan lamp’ light. The truth is a candle light is often brighter than the NPA’s. The usual excuse is ‘old transformers’. Those who have electrical appliances are often left in tears. In most cases, the power voltage would is so low that it cannot put on even an electric fan not to speak of fridges or freezers.
Such is the agony of residents of Industrial Estate that they have now resigned to live in semi- blackout nights whenever NPA cares to give them light.
When the transformers cannot work, the ensuing darkness gives a field day to cable thieves. The next beneficiaries would be the NPA workers who have to be bribed by residents to fix the old transformers for electricity to reach those depressed communities.
The question the disgruntled consumers have been constrained to ask is why was it that the overzealous Ernest Bai Koroma government never thought of replacing the obsolete transformers and transmission lines in the first place alongside the Bumbuna hydro project, rather than allowing NPA to subject its customers to endless headaches arising from poor transmission of power into the homes or businesses places of consumers?
It is frustrating to see other areas enjoying some amount of electricity while others are being deprived simply because there are no good transformers in these areas. Or was it designed to ensure that some callous NPA staff exploit the poor in the name of power outage? Too bad!
Let us all work earnestly to realize the president’s ‘agenda for change’. To undermine such a laudable venture would amount to treason.
So NPA, watch out, we are watching you. It’s high time you stopped your ‘yuki-yuki’ game, or else we shall expose you. It’s no fun!
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