NAWEC and the frequent power outage: What we know so far

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s Greater Banjul Area and the West Coast Region have been living in night mare from the frequent power failure for a week, with the country’s water and electricity power-house; Nawec, at the receiving end of the blame.

In what appears to be the electricity company’s failure to tell Gambians the truth about the challenges they are facing to provide adequate and sustainable power supply, majority of its power generating generators are decades-long old, with some of them having major damages that are unable to be brought back to normal service.

Eye Africa TV conducted a deep finding of the situation at Nawec, and what have been causing the recent power shortage which triggered several businesses to stand down, anchoring loss of thousands of dalasis to those who are entirely dependent on the company’s power supply.

Sources close to the company said the recent blackout has nothing to do with the floating power plant, Karpowership, who entered into a deal with Nawec to provide support in order to meet its power demand.

Gambia’s power generation mainly relies on generators since 1965 when the country gained its independence from the British. It is among countries that will benefit from a sub-regional power project, The Gambia River Basin Development Organization Energy Project (OMVG), alongside Senegal and Guinea Conakry.

The project comprises of the construction of 1,677 kilometers of 225-volt transmission network capable of handling 88MW of energy and the construction of 15 substations of 225/30kW each. Two of these substations will be built in The Gambia, including one in Jarra Soma.

Our findings indicate that in Brikama 3, generator number 1 that generates 9 megawatts is now available after fixing its transmission constraint. 3 million United States Dollars was budgeted for the maintenance of the machine, but it is not clear where that amount was acquired and spent in the maintenance purpose.

President Adama Barrow presides over the laying of Foundation stone of OMVG sub-station in Jarra Soma, February 2019: Photo Credit: State House

On Thursday, Nawec wrote on its facebook page, apologizing Gambians and its customers for the blackouts and extended power outages. “This was caused by the heavy load shedding while the Watsila in Brikama was down for a scheduled 3 weeks maintenance,” it said.

The Watsila generator engine number 1, which has only one engine, is said to have been out of service for at least four months. Nawec is usually blamed by the public for not telling the truth about the regular power failure, while some people suggest that it is usually the act of some disgruntle staff to deliberately deny people from accessing electricity.

“We are happy to inform the general public that we expect normal services to resume when Watsila is back on tomorrow one week ahead of schedule,” Nawec said on its facebook page, but added that there will be a few more but shorter outages on Thursday and Friday while they work on bringing back the Watsila engine in Brikama.

Our finding further revealed that the generator number 5 at Kotu power station that previously had oil leakage breakdown is now up and running, while generation number 6, that have been in service since 1990 is now out of service for at least four months and is expected to come up in late January or early February 2020.

A source told Eye Africa TV that all the generators that were faulty for the past weeks are now functioning in order at both Brikama and Kotu power stations. The generator number 6 at Kotu is said to have shut down for minor maintenance but engineers are unable to bring back the damage liner.

World Bank is said to have funded the maintenance of the generator with 35, 000 Euro for the purchase of the liner. That generator is planned to come back online in February 2020 and will produce up to 6 megawatts.

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