Tourism camps relish REA power as villagers dumped

07Dec 2019
Mohammed Ugasa
Rufiji
The Guardian
Tourism camps relish REA power as villagers dumped

A FRESH look is needed by the Ministry for Energy on Rural Energy Agency (REA) power line installation of Mloka Village in Western Rufiji as villagers have been shocked by recent development.

Just a fortnight ago over ten poles were deployed to facilitate availability of REA power to a tourism camp now still at an early stages of construction deep in the forest.

The number of poles used would have served over hundred houses of poverty-stricken villagers which are still in strong quest of REA power.

 One of the four suburbs of Mloka village namely, Nyakisiku which is fast growing has over hundred houses well constructed but to no avail no poles or REA power.

Some of the houses have already finished wiring process but a priority is given to tourism camps when it comes to REA power line installation.

In July this year, eyebrows were raised by villagers who were and still are shocked by an awkward installation of power line on bare plots in Mkange suburb. Before the wound has healed a salt was added last month when power line was installed to access a tourism camp located miles in the forest consuming a lot of poles.

Khalfan Buma, one of Mkange suburb resident who is in darkness says ‘Tanesco does not care the number of poles or where the poles have been installed in its quest to access a single customer as long as they secure an alleged ‘cooperation package’.

Reacting on this Tanesco Rufiji manager Said Masoud said the installation of power line to access the tourism camp was an order from higher authorities and a powerful nod from the disbanded village leadership.

“We secured a budget for Mkange suburb and what we did was according to the plan,” said Masoud in an interview yesterday.

Masoud failed to explain as to why the poles used to access power to a single tourism camp in Mkange were not prudently deployed to mass number of houses enduring darkness at the expense of a single customer.

Uncertainty and despair has engulfed poverty-stricken villagers here as they cannot dream how to part ways with darkness.

“It’s an illusion for us to get REA power if Tanesco can use many poles to access just one customer ignoring the rest,” says Musa Issi.

The inexorable quest, speed and tenacity of power line installation to the camps has caught many villagers in a blind wave of bewilderment.

This is the second time since September for Tanesco to facilitate REA power line to a tourism camp after another one was accomplished in Mpanga suburb.

REA power installation to poor villagers still looks a matter of fortune, luck and completely unrealistic.

So far four tourism camps namely Jimbiza, Ngalawa, Mapumziko and Kinga Lodge have already been connected to REA power as Tanesco are just warming up.

Mloka is surrounded by 32 camps according to the latest statistics released by village executive officer Ali Mbiteheni.

Since the beginning of REA phase one in mid 2017 here, less than quarter of the houses of Mloka village have been connected to power.

Electricity connection has been concentrated on the central part of the village with well to do people, businessmen and owners of tourism camps becoming beneficiaries.

After the government announcement that electric poles should be free for whoever wants to be connected to REA power, it is the tourism camps surrounding the village that look to benefit more than ordinary poor villagers.

Very surprising Tanesco power-connection fieldsmen have been installing power to houses even without wiring or roofing.

Electricity connection is in high demand here as villagers are living in fear of untimely visit by wild animals particularly elephants. Elephants’ population is growing courtesy of superb work by the Selou Game Reserve authorities.

Elephants have been prowling the village corridors even during day time and frequency is high the soon darkness falls. Going to toilets at night is a challenge for villagers here as most of the houses are not self-contained.

Besides elephants, other notorious animals in the likes of hyena and lions are also on prowl while enjoying life particularly at night.

The village is fast expanding and the number of visitors especially those intending to work at Nyerere hydropower project increases everyday.

With a population of more than 5,000 and daily inflow of over 1,000 visitors, REA power installation is only on the central part of the village. The number of houses is more than 900 in all four suburbs.

Mloka is the biggest stop-over for Nyerere Hydropower project-bound workers, expats and equipment-packed heavy duty trucks.

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