Makeni city may boast as one of the darlings of the National Power Authority, courtesy of its enviable record as the highest paying consumer city in the country. Considering that electricity in Makeni hardly blinks, thanks to Bumbuna Hydro –electricity, it should come as no surprise if the revenue department of the NPA puts Makeni city at the top of its Christmas list. There is no doubt that Makeni is fast becoming the most vibrant city, and as such most envied by many. Yes, I can hear the politics rolling off your tongue now.
But it was not all well and gloom over the weekend for the residents, as most dwellings were without power. It was not your usual “blackout”, but rather a systems failure that has left the few available retail outlets redundant. Unlike Freetown, NPA customers in Makeni can only top up their electricity meters through two banks. So when the banks reported a systems failure over the weekend, the ensuing chaos was inevitable. Long queues around the banks became eyesores for residents and visitors as customers tried to snake their ways to the pay points. This prompted the NPA headquarters to implement a stop gap solution by activating their own pay point, in order to alleviate the “suffering” of the masses.
According to Mr. Abdul Musa the Station Head, the banks initially had problems on Saturday when their receiver failed. As a result, the station was generating electricity that was not utilised; as people could not buy credit from the banks. “This was what prompted us to activate our own pay point to keep our customers happy”, said Mr. Musa. According to him, the main problem was not with the banks but the internet service provider. He stated that whenever such problems arose in the past, technicians from Freetown would attend to solve the problem. At the time of going to the press, there was no definite time scale given for the resolution of the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Station head expressed his gratitude to the customers for their patience. He also noted that as a result of the accumulation of customers wanting to top up their meters, the rippling effects became more evident on Monday and Tuesday as long queues were seen around the power house. Mr. Musa acknowledged the few number of pay points in the city, but was quick to re-assure customers that plans are in place to look into this. He further revealed that vending stations, retail outlets and scratch card facilities are all being considered, and that the system has already been configured to that effect. He likened the system to the one used by mobile phone companies to buy credit and hoped that customers will soon be able to buy credit for their electricity with relative ease and in comfort. Meanwhile, efforts have continued to ease the backlog of customers; with a view to restoring normal service within the earliest possible time. At the time of going to press, the crowd had remained patient and peaceful, thanks largely to the police presence.
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