Row erupts over REA power line installation

03Sep 2019
Mohammed Ugasa
The Guardian
Row erupts over REA power line installation

RAPID-expanding Mloka village located 75 kilometres East of Nyerere Hydropower plant at Stieglers Gorege in Rufiji, has become Tanesco’s biggest challenge in REA rural electrification.

Neither the first nor the second phase of Rural Electricity Agency’s (REA) electrification has been able to meet the colossal power connection demands of the village with a population in excess of 5,000 inhabitants.

REA power connection has been highly concentrated in the central areas of the village to coy visiting Government officials while those households located on the outskirts still crippling for the service as they are condemned to eternal darkness.

Mloka village comprise four suburbs of Kwangwazi, Nyakisiku, Mpanga and Mkange. Since the REA phase One electrification kicked off in 2017 here, Mkange has been hardest hit only for a latest move by Tanesco to distribute electric poles ahead of President John Magufuli power plant project launch at Stieglers Gorge.

However, Tanesco’s efforts to silence Mkange residents’ power connection woes have been hit by unexpected controversy last month.

Despite good survey across the suburb, power connection poles were installed in the most awkward way much to the surprise of everyone here.

Survey and then installation of the poles was done at a broad daylight as Tanesco fieldsmen worked with an incredible pace and precision few days ahead of the Nyerere Hydropower plant project launch.

Before that, people have not seen Tanesco fieldsmen working overnight with that rare speed and enthusiasm.

However, for reasons best known to them, some of the electric poles were installed on bare or rather plain residential plots with no sign of being developed in the near future. Musa Issi, Hassan Buma and Kassim Kitimai are among the most frustrated Mkange residents who are unhappy with awkward installation of electric poles.

More surprise some poles have been left sprawling on the ground for no apparent reason. When Buma tried to query Tanesco fieldsmen over the unattended pole, he was told to ‘cooperate’ if he wants the pole to be installed close to his house to ease connection. Buma failed to raise the ‘cooperation package’ sum.

The pole is still lying on the ground presumably as‘bait’ awaiting someone else who would be able to meet the condition.

People are left in complete bewilderment whether prudence and mathematical vectors were observed during poles installation and how Tanesco would recover its return on investment through electric poles installed on bare plots.

While this was done in Mkange, the nearby fast-expanding Nyakisiku suburb which has over 60 households ready for connection is still in strong need for power poles ahead of submitting applications in an attempt to fill power-connection forms.

This controversy has raised eyebrows not only to Nyakisiku residents but even to some of their counterparts in Mkange who have been overlooked in the distribution of power poles. Unless your house has been reached by nearby power pole, then you cannot collect form and fill it for power connection, a condition imposed by Tanesco.

When contacted for comment, Tanesco manager for Rufiji, Mr. Said Masoud said the distribution of power poles in Mkange suburb has been done to meet long-standing demand of the area’s residents. Comfortably sipping his Castle- Lite beer at Mloka’s famous Puga Bar, Masoud said Mkange residents had voiced their complaints that reverberated across ministerial corridors and there was no way to allocate some of the poles to other demanding suburbs.

He also added that Tanesco surveyors worked closely with Mloka village chairman, Hemed Mlohya who stamped his authority over where and how the poles should be installed.

Avoiding more questions Mlohya who appeared in pensive mood and nervous, said Mloka residents should first thank Tanesco for installation of the poles no matter how.

This controversy has been a talk of the day by Mloka villagers; each is surprised to see power poles have been installed on under developed residential sites while many households are left with in-depth quest for power connection.

The poles have been subjected to possible destruction by frequent wildfires outbreak which goes uncontrolled here with an increased frequency.

Speculations are rife here that this blunder was possibly done to suppress owners of households who are likely to challenge and contest the incumbent village leadership ahead of forthcoming local government elections in November. It is not known whether incumbent chairman Mlohya will seek re-election for a second leadership tenure or otherwise.

In related development    Muhiddin Kilalile who resides in Kwangwazi was shocked to see other household owners getting power connection in the quickest of the speeds despite filling connection forms in recent days.

Kilalile concluded all formalities for power connection including payment on July 13, 2019 through receipt number 9910311902411 but was kept on indefinite pending tray, while some of those who made it in August have parted ways with darkness.

He wondered how Tanesco have been connecting power to households with LIFO (Last In First Out) system rather than FIFO (Fist In First Out).

Most owners of households who have been successful to be connected to REA power here are alleged to have in one way or another provided a costly ‘cooperation’ packages. Owner of hardware shop Said Kioze of Mpanga suburb and his neighbors had tried to ‘cooperate’ in 2017 but to no power connection avail.

Kioze and his neighbors have parted with 800,000/- but are still in darkness while in agony of their lost money. Kioze has paid money to one of Tanesco officials whose name is withheld.

The affected party is ready to give details of the dubious transaction should PCCB interrogate him. Another group of residents (Andrea Shija, Hassan Mkumba, Tabu Mkali and Kilalile) in Kwangwazi suburb are desperately organizing ‘cooperation’ package believing they can get access to REA power.

The situation is terribly pathetic as REA power has not been that much affordable in Mloka. Those who have been successful in power connection are reported to be ridiculing the rest and walks with pomp.

However, Tanesco manager for Rufiji said he would like to have every household in Rufiji connected with power only for budget limitations becoming a stumbling block.

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