Gambia’s National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), the nation’s only Energy Company, has once again embarked on a massive electricity cuts (outages) on the first week of the Muslim fasting month Ramadan, thereby causing an untold hardship to the populace, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Thousands of NAWEC consumers have been affected by the latest power outages. Those affected by the unexplained electricity cuts mainly reside within the Greater Banjul Area.
Concerned by the massive blackouts, some disgruntled NAWEC customers contacted the Freedom Newspaper to vent their anger at the current lack of light. The concerned customers accused the Energy Company and its management of total abdication of duties, lack of reliable and efficient services.
“NAWEC is a total failure. For days, we do not have light in our homes. Since the beginning of Ramadan, light has been going on and off. In some places, there is no light. There is complete blackout. The Barrow government has failed us big time. Electricity supply was more stable under Jammeh’s rule compared to Barrow’s government. Folks, at NAWEC do not seem to care about the well being of its customers. They lacked empathy. One would have thought that they will make electricity available to NAWEC customers in this month of Ramadan, but that’s not their immediate priority. They are busy making money from poor customers without services delivered,” said one disgruntled customer.
Another Customer phoning from Banjul said: “Pa Nderry, please use your airwaves to address the issue of NAWEC. There is no light in this country. NAWEC is getting from bad to worse. NAWEC is a national disservice This company is not serving its desired purpose. We are fed up. We need light during the fasting period.”
The government of Adama Barrow recently signed an Energy deal with a Chinese State owned Energy Company with the view of helping to end Gambia’s energy crisis. The project is yet to officially kickoff.
“Customers should brace up for more power cuts. We are far from resolving the ongoing power cuts. It may take two to three years before the Chinese Power plant project will be officially inaugurated. Right now, we do not have efficient generators to service our customer base efficiently and effectively. We are also faced with high cost of crude oil to service our machines. Our customers should just bear with us; there is no immediate remedial solution to the problem as we speak,” said a NAWEC insider familiar with the company’s Energy challenges.
“NAWEC’s immediate priorities for electricity supply primarily centered around hospitals, security installations, government offices, and residents of top government officials. Such areas have been considered as top priority list. Occasionally, we will alternate the power supply within communities. For now, we couldn’t cater for the growing demand for electricity due to logistical constraints highlighted above,” the insider added.
Alhagie Conteh, the former NAWEC Managing Director is said to be one of the stakeholders of Gambia’s Energy Sector. Mr. Conteh is operating his own company in Banjul called Daba-Nani.
“On his latest move to switch NAWEC’s lubricant supplier, Alhagie Conteh has managed to increase NAWEC’s cost of oil purchasing to 40% higher than Atlas used to offer. Mr. Conteh managed to get new dealers for NAWEC for higher rates so that he can get his commissions,” a source has alleged.
“On normal circumstances, ATLAS usually supply fuel to NAWEC on credit basis at lower rates, but the new deal Alhaji Konteh brought in, NAWEC, is paying upfront for the purchasing of fuel; which insiders believe is a strategy Alhaji Konteh uses to get his commissions paid upfront. Currently a lot of NAWEC staff are fed up seeing their company ripped off by Alhaji Konteh and have nowhere to turn to for the fear that they may lose their jobs due to Konteh’s strong political backing by the new Barrow Administration,” our source further alleged. Mr. Conteh could not be reached for his own side of the story.
NAWEC’s management could also not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.