Sunday, October 25, 2020

BPC-FCC clash over streetlight maintenance

A war of words has erupted between the Botswana Power Corporation and the Francistown City Council over who is to blame for what Francistown councilors describe as “the deplorable state of electricity supply in Francistown.”

This comes after councilors last week attacked the BPC for the erratic power supply in Francistown. Some councilors condemned the BPC officers as outright failures whose service is characterized by daily power cuts in almost all the locations in Francistown and evening blackouts as almost all the street lights are always not working.

The councilors complained that the continuous unannounced power cuts during the day and at night are dangerous as they damage their electrical appliances and cause production disruptions in crucial industries within the city.

“Our efforts to attract investment into the city will be derailed by Francistown’s bad reputation of unreliable power supply,” said one councilor.
Councilor Rebecca Nshakazhogwe told the full council meeting that BPC claims that street lights are always functioning are false.

“Some of the functioning streetlights are clogged with dirt and dead insects such that they reflect very little light,” she said, adding that the continuous darkness that the city is always engulfed in also perpetrates crime as criminals operate better under the cover of darkness.

There is no love lost between the FCC and BPC as the animosity between the two dates back to last year when an official of the corporation attacked councilors during a presentation to the full council in December.

Responding to the allegations, the BPC’s Regional Commercial Engineer North, Michael Lekganyane, denied that the BPC had failed to deliver on its mandate of distributing and supplying electricity and maintaining and repairing its circuit equipment.
He told The Sunday Standard that they have agreed on terms of reference with the council that determine which street lights are the responsibility of the FCC and which are the responsibility of the BPC.

“The FCC is responsible for the maintenance of street lights that they have installed, even though such street lights are fed by BPC electricity networks. BPC on the other hand, maintains streetlights that it has installed for the FCC at a cost to the council,” he elaborated.

Lekganyane further explained that maintenance costs that the BPC charges the FCC are usually for the replacement of bulbs, fittings, daylight switches and contractors.

He went on to challenge the FCC to prove that the street lights that are under dispute are actually those that are under the responsibility of BPC and not those under the FCC.

The same challenge was raised by Councilor Alec Tabengwa when he cautioned his colleagues that they must be careful when they accuse the BPC lest they find that the street lights that they are so vehemently complaining about are actually under the jurisdiction of the FCC.

A casual survey by The Sunday Standard revealed that some of the councilors in the FCC are not aware of the fact that there are some streetlights that are actually the responsibility of the council.
Lekganyane also told The Sunday Standard that they submit a report on street light maintenance every Monday, specifically to an FCC Maintenance Technician called Mr. Molosiwa, saying that he is surprised that Molosiwa had not made a report to the full council meeting even though they had obviously raised complaints.

Molosiwa said that they have repeatedly requested the FCC to consult with them on a regular basis to analyze the weekly reports but unfortunately this has not always been the case.

He also challenged the FCC to be proactive and make counter checks on the BPC reports so that they can, in future, make informed judgments.

“Following the recent onslaught by the FCC councilors on the BPC, we have instructed our Operations and Maintenance Engineer to scrutinize our streetlight maintenance program and report to the FCC in due course,” read a statement from BPC.
However, Lekganyane was quick to point out that BPC does not take the occasional expressions of dissatisfaction by councilors lightly and it will work to rectify any lapses in service delivery that will be found to be the responsibility of the corporation.

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