17 February 2014, Banjul – Gambian lawmakers have raised concerns over millions of dalasis owed to the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), calling on defaulters to settle their arrears to enable the country’s utility corporation fulfill its mandate.
The concern was raised recently after the managing director of NAWEC, Ebrima Sanyang, tabled the institution’s activity report and financial statement for year 2012 before the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly.
In his presentation, Sanyang told members that his institution is deeply concerned over millions of dalasis owed to it by Area Councils, The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), The Gambia Telecommunications Company, (GAMTEL), amongst others.
Describing Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and the Brikama Area Council (BAC) as the biggest debtors, the NAWEC MD indicated that his company is devising mechanisms to ensure that all defaulters settle their arrears. For councils, he suggested the need to put cash-power meters for all the streetlights with a view to avert future debts.
“It is important to note that NAWEC’s revenue in 2012 rose by about 19.72% from 2011. Loss after tax dropped by 13%, while the loan portfolio increased by 18.42%,” Sanyang said.
Despite the huge debts, Sanyang acknowledged that the support of the government has enabled them to register some progress in terms of recovery. He said the outstanding arrears for the central government has dropped significantly, with challenges still remaining with the local government authorities.
He reported that out of the 25,000 faulted cash power meters 20,000 have been fixed. On fire incidents, he opined that the use of non-quality materials in homes could lead to fire outbreaks while on the other hand; poor wiring by unqualified technicians could be a contributing factor.
Reacting, the speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, said the debts owed by municipal councils is serious, thus assuring that they (councils) would be called to pay their arrears or be cut off. “We will call the councils to see how best they can pay NAWEC. They either pay or cut off and they have to pay even if they are cut off,” he stressed.
The member for Serrekunda West, Hon. Sulayman Joof, called on the PAC/PEC to step in and help NAWEC recover its debts. “We have to do something for NAWEC to keep its mandate,” Joof said, while commending NAWEC for fulfilling its mandate in electricity expansion particularly to the rural areas. Several NAMs who took turns to contribute expressed similar concern and called on the defaulters to settle their arrears.