Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NAWEC’s Erratic Supply –How Women are Bearing the Brunt

Kumba Leigh

The biting effects of severe power outages as NAWEC works on fixing a familiar problem perhaps did not spare anyone connected to the grid. But as Women’s Bantaba writes, women are bearing the brunt…
For weeks now, the womenfolk whose preoccupation includes going to the market on daily basis and taking care of the family have been in a painful struggle to keep their heads above water.

This is in the face of erratic and unreliable electricity supply by state-owned, National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC), the state incorporated profit-making company enjoying hegemony in the production, distribution and supply of electricity,
In a recent press statement, NAWEC, in a familiar excuse, announced frequent power outages due to an ongoing, routine maintenance works on one of its machines. That status quo would last for about two weeks.
This development came barely few months after NAWEC increased electricity tariff, despite the high cost of living. Then, instead of providing electricity for less than two million people, they would take light for 12 hours or more.
The effect has been so bad that some local women in the markets have to slow down the selling of fish, which they said, was denying them income.
As FatouManjang, 38, puts it, “We didn’t complain when they increased the electricity tariff, but here they come taking electricity on and off without considering the damage it caused us.”
Fatou is a fish vendor at Latrikunda market. “I purchase the fish from Tanji every evening and put some ice blocks on top of fish for preservation for me to sell them on the following morning. But in recent times, I have been thinning down to the extent of buying small quantity of fish because of the unpredictability in the electricity supply”.
Jannie Kofi, a Ghanaian selling chicken at the same market, said because of electricity shortage, she had to sell the chicken at a give-away prices otherwise it would get rotten and this would be to her losses.
“As you can see, the refrigerator is full of chicken and if I don’t sell it on reasonable price it will get rotten and I will not regain the money I spent to purchase it.”
The same electricity shortages happened some time last year when erratic power supply destroyed appliances, and household assets.
For the past days Gambians, especially women, have been grappling with shortage of electricity shortage on daily experiences.
Kumba Leigh-Bah, 26, is mother of one and works at Torodo Builders. She does all her cooking on Sundays for the weekdays.
“I used to do the cooking on Sundays to save time and energy, but I have stop it to avoid eating and throwing away rotten food as electricity supply is not enough.”
She added: “I had to do the cooking everyday when I finished work at five in the evening because I put the food in my fridge and it got spoiled because there was no electricity.”
Electricity, which every household uses daily, also help the womenfolk who engage in selling locally made juice (wonjo, ginger and baobab) and ice block to provide some of basic needs like food and school children daily allowances.
“I think women are the most affected by the electricity predicament, as we sit home helplessly, hoping that NAWEC will solve our problems every minute that passes by,” says Fatima Njie, a housewife and a mother of seven.
“I support my husband with the little I earn from my little business, but with the current situation of electricity supply, it is hard to support my husband and my children, most of whom are going to school.”
For Ndey Njie, a customer, found buying fish at the same market, said the price of fish is the worst because women are not going to sea to purchase fish for the fear of losses, as electricity is not steady.
“Everything is expensive, and NAWEC is adding another burden of difficulty” she said
FamaMboob, who runs a restaurant in Latrikunda, engaged in the selling of food and soft drinks as well as water.
“As you can see, it is often difficult to realize profit. Customers do come and eat but they don’t buy soft drink and water simply because there is no electricity.
“I hope NAWEC will solve this problem as soon as possible to regain my customers again” she lamented.
Author: Binta A Bah

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