Editorial: Mr. President the NAWEC Electricity & Water Supply Shortage is a National Emergency

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Gambia’s National Water and Electricity Company

Peter Voser Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell, the Netherlands once described energy supply as the “Oxygen of the Economy”. This is fundamentally true as without oxygen humans as well as other organisms will not survive on the face of this planet. Like the oxygen we all need to bread and live, No  economy can also survive the test of time and provide basic standard of living to its citizens without consistent energy and water supply. Energy supplies therefore is the most critical element for any nation to survive and for its people to have access to basic necessities of life. This is why it is imperative that any government that seeks to make a difference in the lives of its people must have a comprehensive short and long term energy supply policy. Lack of sound energy supplies as a key part of national economic policy is what holds the unmasking of Africa’s development potentials. Without a strong strategic long term energy supplies, African governments will continue to undercut their development potentials.

Mr. President access to Electricity supply and clean drinking water is a basic human rights. Just like access to decent Healthcare; food supplies, education etc, are basic fundamental rights for every citizen; so is the supply of electricity and clean water. In fact , these factors are all directly connected and the lack of one or the other directly impacts the effective delivery of the other. No one can live a decent and convenient life without access to food, water and decent healthcare. It is therefore urgent for your government to immediately address the shortage of energy and water supplies as a National Emergency that threatens the lives of Gambian citizens especially women and children.

Mr. President the outcry from Gambians due to lack of Electricity and water supplies for the last several weeks and months has reached a National crisis. It threatens our national security both on the potential for the spread of diseases such as the deadly malaria and other diseases that may arise from drinking and bathing in dirty water. Without regular energy supplies businesses cannot effectively run their businesses and the damage on goods and interruption of basic supply of services could amount to millions of Dalasis in loses. The last thing a fragile and deeply bankrupt economy needs is a man made disaster that can bring the country’s economy to a halt. It is imperative that your government immediately address the energy and water supply issues if we want to avoid a social and economic catastrophe in the New Gambia.

Mr. President every Gambian is aware of the more than half a century of energy supply problems Gambians have endured throughout our history. However, inheriting a problem is not enough to not have austerity emergency measures to address the most significant problem the country is experiencing at the dawn of your government. Gambians heard from the Acting Director of NAWEC Nani Juwara at a press conference today on the major issues that are affecting the nation’s only energy and water supplier from delivering these basic services. The major issues NAWEC outlined are incapacity to handle demands from its six generators due to age and functionality of these old machines. Mr. President Gambians are asking basic questions on this capacity issue! How much does a brand new generator cost $500,000, $5 million or $20 Million? Is NAWEC the right organization to run the energy supply of this tiny nation of less than two million people? Are NAWEC Staff trained and do they have the technical skills and competence to manage this company? NAWEC is reported to be owing over D40 million Dalasis in taxes during the previous regime, where is all the money NAWEC has been collecting from consumers and its budget allocation? Something is fundamentally wrong and it needs to be addressed immediately.

Mr. President, many Gambians called for severe austerity measures from your government to address some of the most fundamental needs of our citizens. Sir, Millions of Dollars poured and continue to pour into the Gambia in the form of grants, loans and private sector investments. The EU alone pledged to the Gambia Government €225 Million with €75 Million disbursed to the government immediately. The world Bank, the UN and other development partners including Senegal have all poured huge sums of money into the Gambian economy. Couldn’t your government afford to take some of those funds and purchase these needed generators to address the country’s energy problem? Sir, we are aware you pledged to address the electricity problems within six months. If we are not mistaken that timeline is now behind us and the problem of energy and water supplies continue to be a nightmare for our people.

President Barrow, a lot of Gambians and friends of the Gambia have a lot of hope and trust in your ability to lead the New Gambia to a different level. It is imperative that your government implement measures to cut government expenses and invest funds in some of the most important sectors of our economy; Energy and water supplies, Healthcare, agriculture just to name a few. Mr. President Gambians are very optimistic, but some are beginning to be concerned that gap and economic divide between elites and the ordinary Gambian continue to widen. Many believe that government officials including the Presidency are not feeling the pain and suffering the Gambian people are experiencing from these energy supplies. In fact, many government officials especially ministers and senior civil servants all have backup generators in their homes to supply power when NAWEC fails to deliver. Ordinary civil servants and the rest of the population continue to wallow in 120′ degree heat while NAWEC officials continue to collect their salaries and promise to fix the problem. Sir, the situation has reached a boiling point and needs to be addressed with urgency.

To address the immediate issue of energy supplies, we urge that immediately upon your return to Gambia, you sermon a cabinet meeting to address the electricity and water supply issues. Consider purchasing brand new Generators from funds that have been donated to Gambia to replace the old machines NAWEC has in place. Reach out to donor and investors in the energy sector to look for long time alternative the energy supply problems Gambians are experiencing. Wind and solar energy is a perfect option for the Gambia to begin to explore.  Mr. President we have confidence that you do understand the dire needs of the Gambian people. But to proof that you do actually understand, Gambians will not lower the bar from the previous regime but raising it for their basic fundamentals to be met. We call on the National Assembly to immediately convene and request an emergency economic measure put in place to address these dire needs. Business as usual cannot be the same as you repeatedly mentioned Mr. President. Gambians are counting on you and we can no longer afford to have black outs while our citizens are in the operating rooms, mothers having babies in dark rooms and young children sleeping naked at the mercy of deadly mosquitoes. We hope that the persist call to action will compel you and your government to take this on. Gambians need their government now more than ever.  A government can only boast of caring for its people if it response to the dire needs of citizens. For the Gambia ever true!

For comments and concerns contact the editor @gainakoradio@gmail.com

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  1. This government has already failed. Mark my words. Barrow promised 6 months for sustainable energy. Now, the Gambia has no h2o. Imagine their travel expenses. The whole population of the Gambia is crying of lack of basic human need, water.
    If this crisis is not solved with urgency, the people should rise up and excise their democratic rights. This is totally unacceptable. No more sweet talk but deeds. This is wrong. Where is all the money that the Gambia collected since January.
    Nowhere in the whole country, you can count on good electricity not to mention water. People cannot perform their religious rights because of lack of water and we have a government. Imagine that.
    This government is taking the Gambian people for granted because we suffered terribly in jammeh’s hands.
    If they are incompetent, let them give way for others. They have to stop from traveling to all four coners of the globe and start solving urgent needs. WATER AND ELECTRICITY.
    The bottom like is. THE GAMBIAN PEOPLE NEED WATER AND ELECTRICITY. No more excuses because we have the funds.

    I am not even going to talk about their response team in Kuntaur natural disaster. I am very disappointed. Hopefully, the government will sit down and refocus.

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