Makamba said the government is only concerned with the quality of wooden poles; hence decisions to form a twelve-member committee to inspect the quality of locally manufactured poles so as to ensure secure markets abroad.
Addressing a forest stakeholders’ conference bringing together pole producers in Iringa and Njombe regions, the minister affirmed that all the poles needed in local electricity distribution projects will be sourced locally. “We only want you to produce quality ones,” he remarked.
Maharage Chande, managing director for the Tanzania Electric Supply Co. (TANESCO) assured the minister that all power distribution projects will source their poles locally.
Queen Sendiga, the regional commissioner, lauded the decision, saying it is geared to empower local industries and create jobs, noting further that lawmakers from the region jointly worked to push the agenda, convincing the government to purchasing poles locally.
MPs have always been supporting local pole producers especially those from Iringa, she said, noting that
Iringa and Njombe regions lead in poles production locally, supplying over 90 per cent of poles used by the state-run power utility.
The poles are long lasting, of high quality and used for power projects for many years, she stated, urging TANESCO to provide specifications for manufacturers to ensure quality requirements are observed.
The minister’s decision is beneficial to residents of Iringa and Njombe regions, she stated, similarly asking to also push for improvement of roads especially the Iringa-Ruaha section, essential to boost tourism at the Ruaha National Park.
Kilolo MP Justin Nyamoga praised the minister for his assurance on the issue, quick response on the matter, saying the response was a relief to pole manufacturers as importing the poles has an adverse impact on the industry.
Municipal councils of Iringa and Njombe noticeably rely on the poles business for revenue collections, he stated, while Makete MP Festo Sanga said forest stakeholders all over the country were concerned about the matter. The decisions to purchase wooden poles from local manufacturers will also benefit farmers, he stated.
In June 2020, former Energy minister Dr Medard Kalemani said that replacing wooden poles with concrete ones will save 67bn/- spent by TANESCO annually on maintenance of replacing rotting poles often falling on the roadside unawares, especially heavy rains and wind.
He told stakeholders engaged in the production of concrete poles in Dar es Salaam that the government had resolved to shift from wooden poles to concrete in order to improve the reliability of power supply and eradicate periodic maintenance costs.
Already TANESCO has started using concrete poles in a number of areas, especially when replacing fallen wooden poles which are a constant safety hazard if such a situation occurs.
Online data shows that the reinforced cement concrete and plain cement concrete poles can be used up to 33 kilovolt lines, and upwards of 33 KV transmission towers must be used to widen the distance between two electric current lines.
At the start, there were arguments about the cost of wooden and cement or concrete poles, with environmentalists saying that manufacturing the concrete poles leaves a larger carbon imprint on the environment than planting and harvesting wood, or treating the wood to avert rotting and posing health hazards.