Monday, February 21, 2011

Citizens Voice Dissatisfaction with NAWEC, NAWEC Replies " OUr Account Books Are Red"

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- In exercising their citizen’s rights, peoples from all walk of lives that gathered at the Father Farrell Memorial Hall, Westfield, on 12th February, 2011, expressed their dissatisfaction with the National Water and Electricity Company popularly called NAWEC at a Public Hearing.
 At the hearing, NAWEC proposed tariff incensement of 31 percent on electricity, water, and sewages in the country was turn down by citizens.
The company’s Deputy Director Mr. Ebrima Sanyang says “we want to increased the tariff because the price of heavy and light fuel has been increasing in the world market for many years,” he added, “in the country, for the past years we have not been increasing our tariff with is making us to loss huge sum of money.”

He adds: “ our account books are red, and we need money to supply the country with electricity and water, he continued, as at now ,we are not a credible company because are account books are red, so we need your support for the continuation of the company for the betterment of all Gambians to benefit from our daily services.” 
How many times they have increased the price of heavy and light fuel in the world market? He asked. He went on to stated that in the country, fuel companies has have been increasing their prices but for his company they have not increased adding that “ even the independent power producer in the country have increased their prices.
According to him, Global Electric Group (GEG) an Independent Power Producer in the country always increase the price of electricity supply tariff when ever the price of fuel increases in the world market, he pointed out that GEG increment is causing another loss to the NAWEC.
For NAWAEC: “we are appealing for the public to approve our tariff because we are currently running at loss, our account books are red,” he repeated.
 In his presentation, Mr. Alagie Jallow of NAWEC noted that it is the responsibility of the company to provide electricity and water to the citizens, while revealing the company has being running on losses for many years.
Giving figures, Jallow revealed that NAWEC owes major fuel suppliers an amount of D378 million in the year 2009, and in 2010, D830 million.
 Mr. Jallow revealed that the company made a loss of D363 in 2008, and decreases to D68 in 2009, and in 2010, their loss increased to D330 million adding that and 2010 respectively. 
On loans, Jallow disclosed that the central government is owes NAWEC over D200 million but was quick to say that the central government made a commitment that in due course they will pay the huge debt. 
On the other side of the coin, Jallow said that the local government councils owes the company D66 million in 2008, and their current debts increases to D118 million. He told the gathering that other companies and individuals are owes the company.
 During the question and answer session, Mr. Tombong Saidy of AMRA told NAWEC that any increment on tariffs of electricity, water and sewerage will have an effect on the consumers saying that many Gambian are low earners. He added: “if NAWEC increase their tariff, many households in the country, will not be able to pay for their bill adding that the country is face with economic crises,” he positioned.
NAWEC’s Jallow reply that majority of Gambians are low income earners, however, he stated that “ if the public did not approve their tariff,  there will come a time when citizens will not have adequate electricity and water supply,” he adds.
He says “We are facing a number of financial tribulations and if we do not solve it, it will impinge on the company in the near future,” he stressed. 
Jallow told the gathering that “If anyone thinks it’s NAWEC bills are expensive, let the individual buy a stand by generator for his or her electricity supply, and all the needed materials needed to operate it for just one month and tell us how much money he of she spend.” He continued: “The individual will spend more on the stand by generator than our monthly bills,” he says in confident, while calling on the general public to approve their proposed tariff for Gambians to have adequate electricity and water supply in their homes, offices, and work places. 
Speaker after speaker told NAWEC not to go ahead with their proposed tariff bill saying that the people in Gambia are living in abject poverty and prices of basic commodities are sky-rocketing every day in the country which is making life difficult for many Gambians.
 In his statement at the official opening of the Public Hearing, Mr. Malleh Saine Officer-in- Charge the Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authorities (PURA) said that PURA received an application from NAWEC on 27th December 2010 for an increase in electricity, water and sewages tariff.
He added that NAWEC’s submission was filed in accordance with PURA’s established Tariff Application Guidelines, which he stated were developed in 2009 following a World Bank funded study through the trade gateway project under GAIPA formerly known as GIPZA.
 However, Saine remarked that the PURA Act 2001 and the Electricity Act 2005 mandate PURA to consult with stakeholders to raise their concerns before tariffs such can be increase by a company.
 Given this, he says “ I want to assure you all that the Board of Commissioners and the entire team of PURA believe in exhaustive consultation especially on a matter of such importance and sensitive that affect both the operator and the consumers.”
 According to him, the purpose of the public hearing is to obtain public comment on the proposed tariff increase by NAWEC noting that whenever discussion is reached by PURA, it will be published in the various media to inform the general public.
 Finally, the agreed tariff will then be implemented commencing at a date that will be communicated accordingly, he pin pointed.
 Mr. Dodou Bammy Jange of the Board of Commissioners of PURA also spoke at length on the importance of the public hearing saying that it gives the citizens to express their concerns, suggestions, comments etc on the subject of tariff increase.
At the end of the hearing only three Gambian voted for tariff increase out of more than three hundred Gambian in the hall. 

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