Early this week, the public was stunned by the emergence of a rather strange Alliance, not within the SLPP, not of any political parties; this alliance is of Civil Society! Yes, out of the blues, the Alliance of Civil Society on Energy ( Never heard of this) was inaugurated this week, through a press release babbling about things they know little or nothing about. How sad that some of Sierra Leone's civil society organisations have openly advertised themselves for hire to lend credence to an elaborate ongoing campaign to deceive the public. It has emerged that PEC, a smart metering company in Freetown, is not an indigenous company as its Freetown based Executive Director, Malador Sowe, wants people to believe.
Evidence available to me shows that the Company is owned and operated by South African business people with head office situated at 128 Siersteen Street, Pretoria in South Africa. Malador is simply an example of those Sierra Leoneans employed by foreign companies to hoodwink the government and the people of this country into providing opportunities at the expense of legitimate local businesses.
Following the expiration of their pilot program with EDSA, PEC had persistently mounted a campaign of calumny against EDSA and the Ministry of Energy.
EDSA's only crime is to ask PEC to comply with the terms of their contract under the pilot phase. Because of its responsible leadership, the Ministry of Energy refused to influence the decision of EDSA not to enter into any long term agreement with PEC. As critical as it is to our national growth, the energy sector can only thrive if it's leadership remain firm and decisive in recruiting service providers that can perform well for the benefit of citizens who have long been deprived of improved electricity supply.
The Ministry of Energy has set up the Electricity Crimes and Related Offences Task Force to clamp down on all fraudulent and criminal activities in the sector and this seemed to have been stepping on the toes of unpatriotic fraudsters closely working with greedy influential operatives. Clearly, the current debacle seems to be one of such reactions we can expect from those benefitting from a previously compromised system.
Some people have built up a reputation and will not compromise their internationally acclaimed integrity so too bad for criminals. I will continue to see such negative resistance from those whose flow of ill-gotten gains is staunched.
Instead of sitting down with the Ministry and EDSA to discuss possible ways of improving their services, PEC resorted to hiring some media and this strange Alliance of civil society for blackmail. And they are using our local content policy to whip up sentiments and buy public sympathy.
"This approach by PEC to force EDSA to do something illegal - operating a contract that has expired is pure dishonesty!!" explains a senior government official.
With evidence in my possession, I now believe that PEC is simply misleading the public especially with the lame argument that energy tariffs could not have increased with their own meters.
It is clear that the GST for example is a law passed by Parliament and not created by EDSA. How can PEC meters affect the charging of GST to consumers? What can those PEC meters do to affect the exchange rate which was a major factor responsible for the tariff increase? In my view, this is nothing short of public incitement.
Misquoting Parliament when the same Parliament, through a published press release signed by the Clerk supported the decision of EDSA to remove the PEC meters which as per the very contract belonged to EDSA is shamelessly dishonest and a clear likelihood of Contempt of Parliament.
EDSA has confirmed to me that they lost money with PEC because they lost customer activity due to their inability to charge correct tariffs. There have also been complaints of poor customer service and I have letters in my possession from business establishments asking EDSA to remove those PEC meters installed in their premises due to the very poor service they received.
Besides these challenges, EDSA could not keep track of consumption through PEC meters. Many keen observers believe that there are serious elements of fraud in the PEC metering system. If this is the case, I am therefore asking the ACC to investigate this as soon as possible.
It would also interest the public to know that EDSA called a press conference few weeks ago where the whole issue was explained to the media.
A couple of days ago, PEC met with Ministry of Energy and the outcome was promising in the interest of both parties and the country.
It was therefore shocking to see a group of Civil Society organizations reportedly hired by PEC to come out with a rather confused press release, attempting to twist the facts?
It is obvious that somebody wanted attention from EDSA and because he didn't get it, he was unhappy and thus decided to use the media and CSOs as a platform to whip up public sentiments.
The question is, when do we stop using private interests as the driving tool of our national actions? This is utterly shameful!!
We will encourage EDSA and Ministry of Energy not to get distracted from the good job they have been doing.
There is overwhelming evidence that electricity supply has improved dramatically with the new leadership at the Ministry and is set to improve even more. To a large extent, even Customer service is seen to be improving as even the Minister himself responds to customers concerns. Is this the reason why some people are bent on distracting the Ministry and EDSA from continuing their effort? Are some people so bent on destroying the strides this Government is making?
As a responsible writer, I will further investigate to come out with more startling revelations on the dishonesty of PEC and their faceless surrogates.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.