President Ernest Bai Koroma has stated that “Without electricity, there would be no development.”
He made this pronouncement yesterday during an assessment tour of the National Power Authority (NPA) Kingtom power station, and the Blackhall Road distribution and transmission section.
Addressing NPA staff, President Bai Koroma said, “I have not only heard about the energy problems [which Sierra Leone is faced with] I have experienced it.”
He continued, “we are only coming in as a government knowing fully well that it is only when the energy crisis is addressed in this country that we will be able to unlock other developmental activities.”
Energy, President Bai Koroma said, “has been given a number one priority…”
“Freetown is now having about 6 Megawatts; it is only Bo and Kenema that are experiencing energy.” The rest of the country, he said, “…is experiencing blackout.”
Freetown, the President said, “have not had electricity for the past two decades and this is a serious situation.”
He noted, “I’m not going to proffer any solutions now…” the reason for the visit, he said, is to “have a field experience, because at the end of the day, I believe we must solve the problem of energy in the country.”
President Koroma maintained, “we must ensure that the technical problems within the reach of you members of staff are handled with efficiency,” adding that “the financial problems should be handled efficiently by members of staff by ensuring that they have adequate returns for the services they provide.”
“The funding aspect of it is to ensure that we engage our donors. We must get to the point where in we would have a… solution,” he stressed
“These fire fighting measures in the NPA must be put to an end,” President Bai Koroma maintained. Giving an overview of the present state of the NPA, the General Manager, Alhaji Foday Mannah explained that one of generators, “Sulzer 4 after rehabilitation by the Moroccan technical team was undergoing re-commissioning, when the alternator was engulfed by fire on 27th September and is now out of service,”
“The rough estimate, cost of repairs for this generator is $230,000”
The Mitsubishi engine which was donated by the Japanese Government under the JICA project, the General Manager said, “has damaged cranking pin bearings.”
He disclosed that the estimated cost of repairs for this 4.5 megawatt machine is $115,000.
The Mirrlees engine number 3 purchased with funds from the World Bank in 2001, Mr Mannah said, “is out of service.” He explained further that the 1975 model Mirrlees engine number 2 which was a donation by the South African Government “is out of service due to 10 out of the 16 cylinder heads damaged.”
The General Manager stated that the estimated cost to repair the machine is nothing less than $358,593.
The Sulzer 5 machine, Mr Mannah explained, “can only produce 6 megawatt to the city with a suppressed demand of over 40 megawatt.”
This, he pointed out, “makes equitable distribution of power difficult.”
In his overview of the distribution system, NPA Deputy General Manager, Patrick Tarawalli explained that the “department is handicapped.”
The reason for that, he explained, “is due to the lack of adequate investment in this sector.”
Highlighting the problems affecting the transmission and distribution sector, he said, “the transformers are aged; the aged distribution lines causes losses to the system; we experience power theft; added to this, unpatriotic citizens also vandalize power lines.”
The Deputy General Manager further explained that the cost of power production and distribution is not commensurate to selling price; “we bill our customers in credit and this is not a good business approach,” he said.