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EDITORIALS  

As Income Electrix Reveals Electricity Problems: Ernest Koroma Owes SLPP An Apology?
By An Op-Ed from Our Editorial Board
Oct 16, 2008, 17:28
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On Pages 8 and 9 of today’s edition, we have laid bare the vigorous exchanges between the Income Electrix Limited (IEL) and the Sierra Leone Government. On Pages 6 and 7 we have reproduced a Letter from IEL to the Anti Corruption Commission. IEL is a reputable firm which has found itself in a big financial mess in Sierra Leone. IEL has invested tens of millions of dollars into Ernest Bai Koroma’s dream of lighting up Freetown but as they bitterly complain to the ACC, they are yet to see one penny of their investment.

As a naďve Opposition Leader, he had said our Electricity Problems could be easily solved. It is now clear that he was very naďve. So, will he now courageously retract such criticisms of the SLPP & apologise??

There is a serious stalemate here. It is clear that restoration of constant supply of electricity to Freetown is not a small task. If anything, the entire debacle between Income Electrix and the Koroma Government indicates clearly that the erstwhile SLPP Government of Tejan Kabbah was not to be blamed for the lack of reliable electricity supply. Rather, the SLPP’s decision to wait for Bumbuna was a matured decision borne out of experienced studying of the situation at hand. On the other hand, it was from a naďve position that the then-Opposition Leader (current Head of State) had made lofty promises that he would end the perennial problem of blackout in the Freetown capital if he was voted into office.

It is also now obvious that an application of the African saying of "elephant head noto pikin load" would be perfectly in place here as President Ernest Koroma might have learnt that it was not out of inefficiency that the SLPP did not provide constant electricity but out of numerous other due considerations such as the ailing power distribution lines and the need to prioritise other needy sectors of a post-war society.

One would be hard pressed not to sympathise with the IEL when they say they met a Transport and Distribution system that made it a mammoth task for Ernest Koroma’s vision to be achieved.

"When IEL came in, we found an archaic system of power generation and a primitive Transmission, Distribution and Safety Device systems in place. A significant percentage of these systems have not been upgraded to modern standards from the time Sierra Leone was under British Rule."

It is interesting that IEL is almost re-hashing the words of Solomon Berewa because Awareness Times publication of September 12th 2006 (two years ago!) had informed that the former Vice President of Sierra Leone, Solomon Ekuma Berewa told a British television station that if the electricity grid (substations and power lines) supplying Freetown is not rehabilitated before the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Project sends constant electricity power down to Freetown, the entire city will go up in a conflagration of fire. Berewa informed that his assertion was based on studies on Freetown’s Electricity Grid by engineering firms including one by Moroccans.

During the Live interview, the TV station had opened up the phone lines to callers who questioned Berewa on the poor supply of electricity to the capital city. It was in answer to one such question that the VP elaborated on the dangers being posed to residents by the ailing Freetown electricity grid.

"We inherited an ailing power supply system. Rotten Generating Plants and an electricity infrastructure that had not been rehabilitated for a long time," the VP had stated.

Earlier, in answer to a question posed to him by the interviewer about the priority of the Government with regards the perennial electricity supply problem, the VP stated that the Governments’ initial emphasis when they were first voted into office was to end the war and after they ended the war, they had to work very hard to disarm and demobilise and rehabilitate the ex-combatants after which they had to embark upon infrastructural rebuilding of Sierra Leone’s schools, hospitals, markets, court barrays and road networks. The VP stated that the SLPP Government had had to prioritise where attention was focused upon.

Those words of wisdom were said over two years ago! There is no need to speak about the effects of the APC’s prioritization of electricity over schools, hospitals, etc, etc. It is glaring!

Back to the situation at hand with IEL and the Government. Now that His Excellency has realized that the restoration of reliable electricity to Freetown is not as easy as he had initially thought, will he be issuing an apology to the SLPP for his harsh criticisms of their failure to restore light to Freetown?

And if Koroma apologises; will the SLPP, in the full realisation that the problem is a national problem, then cooperate with the ruling APC to find a solution to this burning problem facing our country? IEL has a valid contract but we still don’t have reliable constant light!

The IEL-GoSL Contract that was hastily signed last year was done on the part of the Ernest Koroma APC regime to score political points. The rush was to show up the SLPP up as a party that could have brought light but failed to do so whilst the APC did so in just three months. Now, the rush to score points against the SLPP has boxed the country into a water-tight financial mess that we would be hard pressed to get out of unless we collectively hang our heads together.

With bi-partisan cooperation that would follow the eating of some humble pie by the ruling party, the country might just emerge unscathed out of the fiscal mess. So, do we hear an apology coming from State House to the SLPP Headquarters?


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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