By S. U. Thoronka……………………………..
In a bid to allay the fear and/or misconception amongst some members of the public, the Minister of Energy, Ambassador Henry Macauley, in an interactive session with a cross-section of some senior media practitioners, over the weekend, addressed certain issues pertaining to electrical generation and distribution and the general operations and management of EDSA.
He noted that there were accusations that the Aggreko project was too expensive, but hastened to inform that without Aggreko during the peak of the dry season, over 30,000 customers in the East end of Freetown would have gone without electricity supply.
The Minister informed that a 15MW Emergency Power Generation contract signed in December 2007 to February 2010, and financed by the World Bank charged USD44.987/MW/Hr and USD3.388/MW/Hr for operations and maintenance.
He said the Government of Sierra Leone financed other costs including purchase of diesel, special marine fuel and lubricants and that monthly payment was almost $500,000 “and going by the current exchange rate, the equivalent for 20MW would have been over $660,000 per month”, he noted.
The Minister furthered that some sections of the public have questioned the cost EDSA pays for Aggreko, a similar Emergency Rental Transaction which according to him is cheaper than the previous World Bank transaction.
He further noted that when the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC) at Kingtom and Blackhall Road went down for what he referred to as unplanned maintenance, over 70,000 customers including those in the West end of Freetown would have remained without electricity.
The Minister acknowledged the fact that it is expensive to provide electricity but that “on a similar token the cost of not providing it is much more deadly”, he argued.
He said some time ago, a major underground fault caused blackout at the PCMH Hospital where nine critical surgeries were scheduled to take place with a faulty standby generator “and had it not been for the timely intervention of EDSA engineers who fixed the hospital generator those patients would have lost their lives”.
The Minister maintained that Ebola ended in November 2015, but before that, the expatriates who worked with them to perform the mandatory maintenance of the power plants could not come.
According to the Minister, it was impossible to have all of EGTC’s plants operational which takes at least one month to service, “there was therefore the need to secure additional power”. He noted that Aggreko is a 50 year old company, operating in 200 locations worldwide and owns the largest containerized power generation fleet in the world.
Ambassador Macauley said accusations of EDSA paying hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly for the rented EDSA building at Murray Town are totally unfounded. The amount paid for the building in April 2016, according to the Minister was $125,000 per annum, and that the actual amount paid to the landlord in Leones was Le690m and the amount paid to NRA as was Le59.9m. He said the building was discovered by an estate agent and other premises earlier proposed to EDSA cost between US$250,000 and US$360,000 per annum.