Why We Must Not Whip NAWEC

For a long time the Gambia National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) had been the whipping dog for not performing above expectation. Complaint is either about epileptic supply of electricity or lack of electricity for days. NAWEC’s situation became so precarious that the Barrow government in 2017 invested heavily to bail out an already sinking company. All kinds of solutions, including sourcing electricity from Senegal’s SENELEC, have been found. The result is the availability and guaranteeing of power supply in villages where it never exist. Today, remote villages are proud of being Gambian. They feel being part of modern day civilisation which doesn’t exist in the absence of electricity. Lighting up The Gambia is a win for people who have throughout their lives craved darkness. In fact, the fear of darkness scares some vacationing diaspora Gambians to stay long or invest in the country. But the heavy investment in the power sector has made the country attractive territory for investment.

However, electricity becomes less important where there is no water. We cannot afford to live without water. That’s why its absence is greeted with angry protest. Who forgets about the angry water crisis in Brikama shortly before Yahya Jammeh forcefully took over power? Gambians have again found themselves embroiled in yet another water shortage. Neither the government nor NAWEC bears the blame this time around. A criminal act of a public enemy has turned into a full blown problem, leaving the energy company reeling with challenges of service delivery. It’s therefore smart of NAWEC’s Managing Director to communicate to the public about the company’s man-made problem. “We still want to apologise to our valued customers that we still have these challenges that may take some time before we can give you 24 hours water supply,” Baba Fatajo said, admitting that NAWEC has significant gaps between the supply and the demand. “To solve the problem, we are embarking on a major project of 22.5 million dalasis. The contractors and consultancies are on the ground and have gone very far with the design surveys,” Mr. Fatajo said, informing news conference at his office that his company has registered some improvements in the electricity services delivery. Despite having main challenges, Fatajo added “our focus now is on water.”

The water problem was the result of the vandalised boreholes, with NAWEC losing over 40 million liters of water every day when the first borehole went down. “We are taking step to at least pick on the lost productions by drilling more boreholes. We have been able to apprehend the man who was vandalising our boreholes in Brikama and is now helping the police in their investigations.”

Instead of engaging in endless talks, we owe it to ourselves to jealously guard what belongs to the government or else the problem comes back to boomerang on all of us. The stupid act of borehole destroyer has left hundreds of thousands struggling to get water. We must not under any circumstances allow anyone to destroy what belongs to the public.


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