Friday, December 15, 2006

The Saudis come to the rescue

The problem of electricity in the Western Area will soon be a thing of the past, following  the signing of a loan agreement of U.S $ 8.3 million between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Saudi Fund for Development,  covering the Power Generation Project for the Western Area.

According to the Minister of Finance, Mr. John Benjamin,  who signed on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone,  the non -availability of electricity,  especially in the Western Area,  has been of concern to the Government.

He said that it is in this vein that the signing ceremony of the loan agreement is of significance to the government.

The Finance Minister commended the Saudi Intervention which he described as beneficial to the country and noted that apart from the Saudi assistance, the Kuwaiti Fund has also provided funding for the purchase of an electricity generating plant.

John Benjamin noted on Friday that immediately after the war and after the actual restoration of peace,  public expectations suddenly soared among members of the public as the public agitated for the development of the infrastructure, even though the devastating war reduced the possibility of achieving infrastructural development in one day.

He argued that the government believes that electricity is a major instrument in pushing national development forward and he also stated  that the provision of electricity was part of government's programme, hence the signing of the agreement with the Saudi Fund for Development on Friday "We have now started to vigorously address the issue of electricity and we will never stop again because we know that the politicians will make electricity an issue during the 2007 elections," John Benjamin pointed out.

The leader of the delegation of the Saudi Fund for Development , Mohammad Al-Shawi,  who is also Deputy Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development,  said on Friday that 30th December 2008 is the date for the disbursement of the fund .

Mohammad Al-Shawi continued, "This important project aims at providing more sustainable, reliable and adequate supply of electricity to the capital city Freetown and its suburbs in order to compensate for the shortfall during the dry season of the generated output by Bumbuna Hydro-Electric Power Station and to stimulate socio-economic activities in the Western Area in particular and Sierra Leone in general.  The amount of the loan to be provided under this signed agreement is 31 million Saudi Riyals, which is equivalent to US$8.3 million."

The Deputy General Manager of the National Power Authority, Patrick Tarawally, in his contribution on Friday at the signing ceremony , said that the NPA was very satisfied about the intervention of the Saudi Fund for Development, especially since the installation of a power generator would increase the total number of megawatts needed to provide electricity for Freetown.

He further assured that once the mobilization starts, the electricity generating plant, which will be constructed at Blackhall Road in Freetown, would improve the NPA's capacity to provide electricity, especially to the East End of Freetown where most of the factories are also located.