2 August 2012

Sierra Leone: Worries Over State of BKPS Dodo Dam

Despite government's continuous commitment to provide reliable and affordable electricity supply for Sierra Leoneans in Freetown, some customers say not much effort has been made in the past twenty years to upgrade the Dodo Dam which generates 20 megawatts of electricity for the Bo Kenema Power Services BKPS to serve people in the south eastern district towns of Bo and Kenema.

The Chinese-built dam, which is strategically located between Dodo and Simbaru chiefdoms in the Kenema district, is said to have been abandoned by authorities concerned even though the station still generates electricity for the two main cities.

Before Concord Times' recent visit to the station, some Kenema residents express fear that if immediate and proper maintenance effort is not put in place, especially as the unpredictable rains intensify, the dam may cause the partial or total collapse of the regular distribution of electricity supply to the people.

"Really, something has to be done. We heard that water used to flow out of the dam after serious downpour. That is serious," says Aruna Kamara, a resident of Kenema. "BKPS has informed us that plans are on to improved the power supply by recycling the water in the dam for better electricity but that has not been the case as we now hear that the output of the grid has reduced despite that we are in a rainy season."

BKPS Public Relations Officer, David Keikula Sama, admitted that it has taken a long time since the dam went through major maintenance process which has been a serious concern for the station since it was observed that the two cities have been expanding on a daily basis and going beyond the electricity supply strength of the dam.

Though Suma agreed that he has not visited the dam in the past two years and could not make an official statement about its status, he promised to raise the concern before BKPS management.

"I will engage management on this development because electricity is significant to the development process," Sama told Concord Times in Kenema. "There is no way these cities can boom without electricity supply."

However, while seeking the views of Dodo and Boijabu towns' residents for which some of them expressed their frustration at the operations of BKPS in the area, the issue of not benefitting from the station despite the closeness came up.

As a 45-year old Pa Amara Samuka of Dodo town puts it: "It is unfortunate that even though the BKPS dam was constructed in this chiefdom, we don't have electricity supply at the chiefdom headquarter town. We also want to make an official complaint that during the rainy season, our farmlands get flooded as a result of the dam's construction by the main waterbed."

He added that they have laid several complaints to the paramount chief for a solution but nobody from the company has ever addressed them on the issue.

"When there is excessive rain," Samuka explained further, "the river gets flooded and extends into our farmlands. We are neither paid for the destroyed crops nor given any support for community's development. It has now become very clear that we will not get electricity in Dodo town."

The town chief of Boijabu , Chief Alhaji Mohamed, also expressed concerns that since electricity was cut off in that part of the country during the war, BKPS officials have not been able to reconnect the area whereas the riverbed on which the dam was constructed belongs to Simbaru chiefdom and they have not been deriving any benefit from the facility.

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