Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard, he said: “The whole of The Gambia is less than three million people and you have cities [in other countries] with populations of 10 million which do not have any problems with power supply. Why are we not in a position to provide regular supply of electricity to a population that is less than 3 million? I think the political will is not just there. I also think that there is too much interference and the right policies are not in place. I had said it when our relationship with Taiwan was very rosy that if I was in President Jammeh’s position I would have asked Taiwan to make sure that our electricity problem was solved once and for all. I think there was a time when our relationship was so rosy that if they were interested in the country and not those US$200,000 presentations on television, then this problem would have been solved.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) leader added: “A UDP government will certainly privatise Nawec. Absolutely! That is the solution and this will be based on the condition that the government can step in anytime if those managing it are not delivering. For the past 15 years, we have seen how the situation is worsening. In 1998 when the president was laying the foundation in Brikama he said that ‘the issue of power cuts would now be a thing of the past’ and since then it has worsened. There has been too much interference in the management. How many managing directors have we had? How many very competent directors have been removed? How many times has Nawec been put under the portfolio of the Office of the President? How can you talk about rural electrification when you cannot even provide regular electricity in the urban area?”
Taking a shot closer to home, Mr Darboe claimed: “My home town, Bansang, was having regular electricity when the president was there but when he left they went without any supply of electricity and water. When you turn on the tap the water is brownish and you have to let the sediment settle so that you can have what you will consider clean water. These are problems that are not being given any serious consideration. It is not that the people who are managing Nawec are incompetent but there is a great deal of interference. This has to stop and the government has to think seriously about resolving this issue. Concrete steps have to be taken”.
The problem of intermittent ‘blackouts’ and ‘brownouts’ have been blighting the country from the time of the first republic.
By Sainey Darboe]]>