13 February 2013

Rwanda: Gatsata Hit By Blackout After Fuel Tanker Destroys Power Line

A major electricity blackout hit hundreds of homes, businesses and a handful of industries in Gatsata and Nyabugogo, yesterday, after the main power line was damaged by a fuel truck in the wee hours of Tuesday.

According to eye witnesses, the fuel truck belonging to SP Petroleum Transporters, lost control and hit the power transmission line after it failed to negotiate a steep slope enroute to the national oil reservoirs in Gatsata. It was transporting Kerosone.

Although the driver escaped with no injury, the truck rammed into the major electricity pylon, leading to a power blackout.

"All businesses and homes in Gatsata and a large portion of Nyabugogo were affected. Our technicians are working tirelessly to restore the power," Larry Vincent Mpaka, the electricity distribution manager at Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), said yesterday morning.

"The pylon was badly damaged and we don't know the estimated costs yet, but we have the situation under control."

However, businesses in the area were incensed by development.

"We produce 200 tonnes of cement a day, today we are going produce nothing. So you can imagine the losses and operational costs we are facing," Placide Niyonzima, the deputy director of Kigali Cement Company, said.

Other major industries that were affected. include beer maker, Brasserie des Mille Collines (Skol) and Ruliba Clays.

John Gashumba, the president of SP Petroleum, said the accident could have been fatal had the fuel tanker exploded.

"We were lucky that there were no fatalities. We do not know the cost of the damage yet," Gashumba said.

The accident also affected water supply to the region as the main water pump stations at the Nzove and Kimisagara water treatment plants stopped working after the blackout.

The plants supply 25,000 and 23,000 cubic metres of water per day respectively.

Water supply will resume after the power line has been restored, according to EWSA.

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