|Hon. Sellu Bah|
“Millions of dalasis or dollars [spent on the REP] have gone down in vain,” Hon. Bah said while seconding three motions tabled before Parliament by the Minister of Finance on Tuesday during a half-day long extra-ordinary meeting of the National Assembly in the 2011 legislative session.
The total cost of the REP was estimated at US$22.3 million (GMD 223 million) of which $19 million (GMD 190 million) is to be externally funded by the African Development Bank, BADEA and the Islamic Development Bank. The remaining amount is to be funded locally by NAWEC in local currency - the Dalasi.
The Project “has started to suffer” because most of the generators that were bought during the inauguration of the project have all been damaged, Hon. Bah said while citing his constituency, Basse, as one of the areas where the project “has failed”.
“Honestly, Basse is facing real electricity shortage and all of this is because of poor maintenance [of the generators by NAWEC],” he intimated, saying: “It was not even long we borrowed a generator that is now keeping Basse on light.”
Hon. Bah said the generators purchased under the REP were made with high technology and they (NAWEC) “know when you have such type of equipment you should endeavour to have qualified people who can maintenance them.
“If you give these high technology machines to somebody who doesn’t even know how to operate a computer and you want him to operate those generators very well, it will not work.”
The outspoken APRC candidate said his findings on NAWEC have revealed that the sole and only electricity supplier in the country “doesn’t even have” generator maintenance expert.
“I was making my serious finding and I found out that NAWEC doesn’t even have an expert who can even carry out maintenance work on these types of generators. That is why most of their generators would run for sometime and later collapse,” he observed.
The Rural Electrification Project in The Gambia started in 1993, when Electricite de France (EDF) prepared an electrification master plan for the Greater Banjul Area and the rural provinces, which basically envisaged the electrification of towns within 80-km radius.
The project consists of six power stations supported by 11kv transmission systems that it was hoped would form the basis for developing a national grid across The Gambia.
The primary objective of the project, which was to encourage economic growth in The Gambia by providing continuous power supply to 46 towns and villages, is yet to be achieved, concerned citizens interviewed at the weekend by Marketplace on the subject say.