Deputy Minister of Energy, Osmond Hanciles, has disclosed that Bumbuna Hydroelectric Phase II project would generate 143 megawatts of electricity for communities across Sierra Leone.
Hanciles, who was speaking yesterday at the British Council Auditorium in Freetown, during the Bumbuna II Hydroelectric Power Project Public Consultation and Disclosure of Environment and Social Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) report, said the ESHIA, which was done by SELI Hydropower, started seven years ago.
He said it was envisaged that after the ESHIA report, government would be able to convince the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to award ESHIA licence for the commencement of work on the Bumbuna II project.
He said that at the moment, the entire country enjoys 20% access rate of electricity supply, but noted that when the Bumbuna II would have been completed electricity accessibility rate would be 30%.
"We have tried to improve the distribution capacity of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) because in 2007 there was 47 kilowatts hours, but it is now 400kilowatts hours. This is a significant improvement in the energy sector," he said.
He added that they now have capacity to accommodate over 100 megawatts within Freetown and its environs.
He said that when the Bumbuna II project is completed, Ministry of Energy and its utility companies would be able to supply at least 80 megawatts without any hitch.
Executive Chairman of SELI Hydropower, Patrick Olufemi Beckley, said they have put mitigating strategies in place to prevent potential hazard in areas where Bumbuna II project would be implemented.
"Initially, SELI Hydropower intended to implement the Bumbuna II produce so that it would produce 365 megawatts electricity, and supply to major historic towns in Tonkolili District. But President Koroma said inasmuch as he wanted to provide electricity to all Sierra Leoneans, he actually wants the people to stay within their environment and that they should not be disturbed by the project. After that statement, we decided to reduce it to 143 megawatts and we thanked President Koroma for thinking about the welfare of the people," said Beckley.
He expressed optimism that they would obtain a licence from EPA, so that their contractors would start implementing the project and relocate residents from the areas where the project will be implemented.
EPA's Assistant Deputy Director, Brian Forster, said his institution was appreciative of the government, especially the Energy ministry for following procedures before commencing the implementation of the project.
He said before 2008, environment and social considerations were not part of such projects, until President Koroma set up EPA in 2008 to ascertain the impact of dust, noise, water pollution, among others, on the lives of residents in areas where such projects are implemented.
Forster said resettlement action plan, livelihood restoration, community development action plan, grievance redress mechanism, among others, are all considered before the issuance of ESHIA licence to commence work on such project.
Tonkolili District Officer, Ishaga Murana Turay, urged paramount chiefs in chiefdoms where the project will be implemented to educate their subjects to support the project, while calling on SELI Hydropower to comply with the local content policy.
Paramount Chiefs of Dansogoia and Kalanthuba Chiefdoms in Tonkolili District, where the project would be implemented, P.C. Alimamy B.Y. Koroma III and Daniel S. Koroma respectively, pledged their fullest commitment to ensuring that the project was successful and urged President Koroma to launch it before he leaves office.