From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

APC Installs ‘Ba nya faeki’ Solar Lights at Mile 91 Town of Sierra Leone
By MOHAMED KABBA (Just returned from Mile 91 in Tonkolili)
Sep 28, 2010, 17:50

The much trumpeted solar lights to be installed in all major towns and provincial headquarters across that country has started on bad footing at Mile 91 in the Tonkolili District, with the three solar lights so far installed being described by the people as “mere decorations” as they are not functioning as expected.

This development has created doubts in the minds of the people who have now started questioning the sincerity of government in implementing the project.

Our reporter who has just returned from that part of the country spoke with some residents to get their views on the dysfunctional nature of the lights.

“Government indeed installed three sets of Solar Panels at the roundabout as you are seeing but the one on Freetown Road stopped working three weeks after its installation,” Alfred Koroma a Civil Society activist informed our reporter, adding that to their disappointment, even the remaining two panels only provide light for three hours every day.

Koroma said when the problem started they attributed it to technical inadequacies for which the District Council Chairman informed the authorities who later sent a team of engineers from Freetown to fix the problem.

“But even when the engineers came and purportedly solved the problem, the panels remained dim and gave out intermittent supply of electricity,” he informed. He said they are wondering if government had not procured dilapidated solar panels or they do not mean installing correct panels at Mile 91.

“We are not sure of government’s good intention in this regard,” Alfred pointed out. He therefore called on government to once more send experts to the town to amend the problem or remove them entirely, so that “we can now be certain that we do not have a solar power street light facility any longer,” he said.

A primary school teacher, Ibrahim B. Sesay also expressed similar sentiments. “When the panels were installed the first thing we detected was their dullness. And just after few weeks of this malfunctioning, they suddenly went out,” Mr. Sesay explained and referred to their present frustration as “the handiwork of sheer deception with the intent to score cheap political goal.”

He said it would have been better if the town was left alone in its perpetual darkness than to fix a fake electrical installation.

“We know and the whole world knows that Mile 91 is without electricity but we don’t want a caricature. This is mere ‘ba nya faeki business’”, Mr. Sesay opined, adding that to say that Mile 91 is the first town to benefit from the solar panel project is no longer tenable since the lights have not served their purpose.”

However, when contacted by this reporter, APC Strongman and Tonkolili District Council Chairman who presides over the APC-dominated District Council, Augustine Aruna R. Koroma after agreeing to comment on the dysfunctional solar panels at Mile 91, said he has no idea about the installation of the solar panels, stating that it is only the people of Mile 91 that are in better position to explain whether they are functioning or not.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.