So, what happened to Energy minister’s call on power cuts?

10Jan 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
So, what happened to Energy minister’s call on power cuts?

THINGS are worsening in the manner in which the national power company, TANESCO, is handling its customers and the larger public with respect to power cuts.

The unchecked frequency with which the problem has been surfacing particularly in recent weeks in parts of Dar es Salaam is overly disconcerting.

What is surprising is that higher levels of the Energy ministry are perfectly aware of the problem, and sometime last month the minister concerned issued a call for heads to roll, a call presumably directed at the TANESCO management.

It is unlikely that the call reached far enough for remedial or corrective measures to be instituted, as no noticeable change of habit has been noticed since.

As the past month proceeded to January and since the start of this month, the situation has remained unchanged, with some power cuts surprising in their frequency and short duration, as if some screwdriver holder was working on the main distribution point in an area.

Why did TANESCO not hear what the minister said, and why did the minister choose to ask the company to fire those who are making life difficult for TANESCO clients with frequent and unexplained power cuts instead of intervening more directly?

It is precisely what President John Magufuli was telling senior civil servants and heads of government agencies yesterday – that they should be daring, that they should act.

Still it is not necessarily far-fetched to suggest that the problem may not be accidental or just due to indiscipline or unethical conduct.While it is perceptibly unlikely that dubious deals are still conducted in broad daylight, it must be admitted that anyone in a position of some responsibility must be doubly vigilant or some devious elements may move in to fill a ‘void’ of resource allocation to make a quick buck.

Making power cuts abnormally frequent, sometimes as many as forty times in a single day, and then keeping mum about it throughout or merely issuing WhatsApp messages for a small group of TANESCO customers is sure to lead to a bad press.

Were it that the minister had set up a probe committee on the issue, if explanation by TANESCO showed some gaps, things would have been much different.

The manner in which the minister raised the problem helps to show why the problem keeps recurring – namely, that officials in the power company do not expect anything vigorous aside from concern from the management itself.

They also likely know how to “take care” of it, possibly in the hope that customers or the larger public would not raise any concern but will suffer the blackouts gladly.

Alerts, apologies and other forms of information mean an immense lot, particularly when it comes to the provision of crucial and delicate services such as electricity from a monopoly.

Therefore, the Energy ministry and TANESCO owe the public an explanation regarding the successive days of unexplained intermittent power cuts many of the state-run firm’s customers have been experiencing in recent days if not weeks.

By the time the minister was compelled to issue his alarm note to TANESCO, it was likely that he wasn’t satisfied with routine explanations from the management. Hopefully, he is even less satisfied now and will soon act – even if no head rolls.