|NAWEC Head Office|
Members of the public, who attended a public hearing on the National Water and Electricity Company’s (NAWEC) proposed tariff review for the year 2010/11 has disapproved of any attempted increase on charges on electricity, water and sewage.
The Company was hoping to increase the tariffs for electricity, water and sewage by 36, 26 and 24 percent respectively. The hearing was organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) at the Father Farrell Memorial Hall, Westfield, on 12th February, 2011.
The hearing followed NAWEC’s proposal to PURA for a possible increment of tariffs of electricity, water and sewage. The Gambia Government received a credit from the international Development Association towards the cost of the Gateway Project, of which, the Gambia Promotion and Free Zone Agency (GIPFZA), is the implementing agency and applied for part of the proceeds of the credit to the payments under the contract for consultancy services for electricity and water tariffs study.
However, some of the speakers on Saturday highlighted the hard times that citizens of the Gambia are currently facing and in their own opinions decided to wave-off any possible increase of tariffs.
Tombong Saidy, Chairman Gambia For Gold argued that any increment on tariffs of electricity, water and sewerage will affect the poor people whose income is very low. They will not be able to solve their family problem much more the cost of electricity, water or sewerage.
He noted that the presenter for NAWEC indicated that the power supply in other countries is more expensive compared to that of The Gambia, however, Mr. Saidy asked if NAWEC has made some consultations to know what the average earning is in those countries.
In response, Alhagie Jallow of NAWEC said they’ve carried out such consultations but he cannot tell the per capita income of those countries off head, unless he finds out from his files.
Mr. Jallow admitted that majority of Gambians are low income earners, however, he argued if they do not increase tariffs, they will not have what they want as a company. “We are facing some financial problems and if we do not solve it, it will affect us a lot in our operations,” Jallow said.
“If anyone thinks it’s expensive, just buy a generator and all the needed materials needed to operate it for one month and tell us how much money you spend. It will be more than that of NAWEC’s bill, so we are calling on the public to give us the support and we will also give them what they want.”
Another concerned person who identified himself only as Mr. Bah of Bakoteh, said suggested that NAWEC should focus on selling some of its assets; the money gained the sale of such assets can be used to carry out their work “instead of increasing tariffs.”
But Alhagie Jallow replied that even if they dispose their assets, the proceeds will not be able to solve the Company’s financial burden. “We are facing a financial burden, the price of fuel and other necessities needed to run NAWEC are sky-rocketing every time.”
“As far as I am concerned, NAWEC did not come with any justification as to why they are increasing the tariffs of electricity, water and sewage. What they came with are the problems they are facing, let them find other ways to solve them,” Lamin Sanneh of Serrekunda said.
NAWEC’s Deputy Managing Director Ebrima Sanyang replied that what Lamin said is nothing to go by, because energy is capital intensive and they need money in order to solve their problems and deliver as expected.