The just commissioned Bumbuna Hydroelectric Power sending high voltage current from Bumbuna in the center of the country all the way to Freetown has gotten its first casualties since it was test-launched recently.
The Lines running from Bumbuna to Freetown have Ďstroked and landedí two personnel of Lynna Consultancy Company, reportedly hired to undertake surveys on the status of houses along the right of way of the Lines.
On Monday 28th September 2009 at about 3:00pm, the two personnel (names withheld) are alleged to be foreigners. They were struck by high tension electrical cable running from Bumbuna to Freetown, at the IMATT Hill Station settlement in Freetown.
In an exclusive chat yesterday with the National Resettlement Consultant for the Bumbuna Project Implementation Unit, Mr. C.J Thomas, he informed that the victims were private contractors using a metal tape to measure the distance from that right of way to the point where the Bumbuna electric cable passed so as to commence self demolition before the actual date set aside by the National Power Authority (NPA) team for the process. According to the Resettlement Consultant, the metal tape used by these men, mistakenly slid up within the electric cables that were at the time supplying an output of electrical current up to the tune of 16MW from Bumbuna. As a result, the current passed from the metal tape measure to the holder of the tape measure who then proceeded to transmit the shock to his nearby colleague. The force of the current threw them a distance and also seriously burnt them leading to them being admitted under critical care at the Choithramís Memorial Hospital at Hill Station.
Mr. C.J. Thomas also denounced radio reports that the victims were performing a project related activities for Bumbuna Project, but clearly stated that one of them was a Consultant hired for the Project by the Lynna Consultant and the other was just a mere private contractor hired to demolish a fence erected along areas that are considered to be very closed to the Bumbuna power lines. Mr. Thomas also informed that, prior to this time they have held a meeting with the police to declare that particular area as a no-go area because of the potential dangers.
However, he went on, efforts have been made to demolish the said fenced area where the men were electrocuted whilst Bumbuna is temporarily closed.
On his part, the Chief of Media in the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) Mohamed Borbor Mansaray on behalf of his Minister expressed heart felt sympathy for the victims, while noting that this should serve as a warning for those residents who stood stubborn to evacuate themselves from the right of way of the Bumbuna.
Assessing public views on the incident, Awareness Times conducted interviews with residents in Freetown who mostly blamed the Government for the poor manner in which the entire demolition and resettlement process is being carried out.
"This is what the World Bank has been raising concern over since last weekend," John Manley, a teacher at Wilberforce told this newspaper whilst the opposition SLPP has reacted to issues.