Saturday, August 24, 2019

On Streetlights Payment Debate: Ministry to Consider Halifa’s Approach

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By Momodou Jarju

The Minister of Petroleum and Energy Fafa Sanyang, said his Ministry will consider the suggestion made by the National Assembly Member for Serekunda Halifa Sallah, on who should be responsible for paying the bills of streetlights.

Appearing before deputies last week Thursday during the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2019 legislative year, Minister Sanyang said the issue of streetlights have been debated many times as to whether NAWEC or Central Government should be responsible for paying streetlight bills.

Minister Sanyang who was responding to the question raised by the Member for Banjul South Fatoumatta Njai on plans to assist the Local Councils to erect streetlights and repair the damaged ones, said the provision, operations and maintenance of streetlights is not the responsibility of NAWEC; that NAWEC’s role is to provide electricity supply services to all customers including Councils.

“However, at the request of Council, NAWEC is willing to render technical assistance to Councils,” he said.

The Member for Banjul North Ousman Sillah in a supplementary question on the form of assistance NAWEC provides to communities that need streetlights and those that want to fix the damaged ones,

Minister Sanyang responded that if a community needs lights and they want NAWEC to fix it for them, NAWEC can assist in the procurement and installation of some of the facilities likes poles and the supply of electricity.

“But the cost of all this has to be shouldered by the Council and NAWEC will carry out the maintenance for them,” he said.

On his part Halifa Sallah the Member for Serrekunda suggested to the Minister for NAWEC to consider preparing a blueprint on how they can render such service and then advertise it so that Councils will see whether they would be able to benefit from it.

Energy Minister Sanyang responded in the positive saying they will look into the idea as it is a positive suggestion; that because people tend to blame NAWEC when streetlights have problems at a time when they are not responsible for them; but that rather they only assist Councils to fix the problems for them.

“Right now, we have a problem with Councils for not paying their bills. But then I am sure NAWEC will be able to provide a blueprint for the areas that the Council is interested in and discuss the cost and the implementation. Councils also have to chip in and that is a good way of doing things. You prepare the ground such as the package and together we can see how we get funding for it. That is a good idea,” Minister Sanyang concludes.

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