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No electricity power at Leicester Road Community until CSE pays it debt

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

Today 25th June 2013 is now two months and twenty seven days and absolutely three days to round up the three months interval when the National Power Authority ceases to give light at the Leicester Road Community and apparently making the community people not to set their eyes on electric power. The problem for the acute non availability of electricity supply in the Leicester Road communities is as a result of the negligence of the Senegalese’s CSE Road Construction Company in carrying out their construction work at the IMATT-FBC road who destroyed the heavy duty cables that was supplying current for the community at the Tree Planting sub-station.

While the poles continue to fall in the Tree-Planting area, the whole of the Leicester Road Community continue to stay out of electric light

While the poles continue to fall in the Tree-Planting area, the whole of the Leicester Road Community continue to stay out of electric light

By principle and practice, the CSE Company is supposed to seek advice and get green light from the National Power Authority, the Guma Valley Water Company and the Sierra Leone Telecommunication Company before ever they can start to excavate or start their road construction works in any street in the municipality of Freetown. But information gathered had showed that the Company had never got the authorization needed from the NPA before they can start their works at the IMATT-FBC road.

The Leicester Road Community is located in the outskirts of the capital city of Freetown and it lies within and around the central part of the city. A recent survey had showed that there are more than five thousand people living in the community with more than two thousand five hundred meters for their utility activities. The community is a residential society with many people including children using electricity from the NPA as their only source of energy to keep their life social through watching movies of their choice at night.  This service has been taken away and most people can no longer prefer to use the coded “Kabbah Tiger” generators.

The suffering still continues in the Leicester Road community. Mr. Santigie Kamara said “I have suffered greatly from this non availability of electricity here in Leicester Road. I bought and topped my DSTV for two months premium viewing but I have never watched at it since then due to the blackout of NPA”. He feared of not getting compensation from the DSTV. Mr. Kamara is also pessimistic about the time he is expecting light to be brought to his community.

Mr. Kamara is not just the only person that faces bitter experience with the National Power Authority. Mr. Ibrahim Sesay shares the same experience with him in the community and he talks tougher on the issue of payment for the meters to the National Power Authority. He said “what normally disturbs me is the issue of payments for my electric meter. It is now close to three months when such meter is off and later when I go to the NPA to buy credit, they can deduct Le10, 000 for meter rate for a month”.

He noted that “it is a criminal activity by the NPA to selfishly defraud customers from services that are not working”. It is not yet clear when the disturbed cables will be amended by the National Power Authority. For now, within the next three months, Mr. Sesay is expected to pay more than Le50, 000 (fifty thousand Leones on meter charges besides his credit charges). Mr. Sesay called on the National Power Authority to seek the interest of its customers in providing good services to the people of Sierra Leone.

Statements and information from the National Power Authority is clearly showing that the authority is not yet prepared to ease the electricity problem of the Leicester Road Community. Victor Wilson-Clarke is the Public Relations Officer for the National Power Authority and on a phone interview with him recently, it sounds he may be on the side of the Authority. “Leicester Road Community is not going to get electricity supply until the CSE pays us”. Although Mr. Clarke never revealed the amount they have billed the CSE Company, he said that for now, they have sent an invoice to them who are yet to get back to the NPA. “Until the CSE Company honors this invoice, the Leicester Road Community will remain on blackout” he said.

When asked by this reporter as to why can’t the National Power Authority take up maintenance of the cables in the Leicester Community and later settled by the CSE, Mr. Wilson-Clarke said “we don’t have the capacity and will not even try to take it up”. He was not also certain about the time the Company is going to pay the Authority. He said “I don’t know when they are honoring our invoice but as soon as they honor it, the work will continue at the Leicester Road Community”.

Even though officials have intimated that the meters are owned by the National Power Authority, but yet getting prepaid/postpaid meters from the National Power Authority needs high clout and connections with officials there. This reporter had suffered such bitter experience there to obtain a meter in December 2012. Once you are not known, you will have to waste lots of time and monies just to obtain a single meter beyond the stipulated amount of about four hundred thousand Leones (Le400, 000). The NPA PRO said “payments for meter charges are side issues” which any meter holder must comply with.

The issue of priority area is taken very seriously by the management of the national Power Authority. When the road construction was being carried out along the Wilkinson road, they took up erection of poles and installation of underground cables very seriously.

Although there is no official computation, but rough estimates suggest that within this three months period of blackout, the National Power Authority have lost over twenty Million Leones (Le 20,000,000) in the community. A community member in the Leicester Road Community reechoed that “it is now clear that our community is not a priority community despite the huge economic impact we are making towards paying our electricity bills to the NPA on a monthly basis”.

Although they have been coiled down by senior members of the community, some youths in the Leicester Road Community have vowed to carry out a protest to the CSE and NPA in other for them to get electric light in the community.

Once CSE is not ready to pay, the bulbs are still being expected to continue to be off in the Leicester Road Community for the coming festive season in December and they will as well continue to loss significant amount in the community

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