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Op-Ed: Tobaski Celebrations Dampened by Power Outages and Water Woes: A Basic Human Right Denied

Written by Sebastien van der Meer | Busumbala, Gambia

This year's Tobaski celebrations were unfortunately overshadowed by a double crisis for many Gambians across the country. Extended power outages plunged homes and businesses into darkness for hours on end, starting yesterday and continuing into today. Compounding these issues were widespread water shortages in many areas.

Nawec (National Water and Electricity Company) has yet to offer a clear explanation for the power cuts or address the lack of water supply. This lack of communication has understandably caused immense frustration, especially considering the importance of Tobaski as a time for families and communities to gather.

The outages, stretching into some areas for over 24 hours, have had a devastating impact. Tailors were unable to complete garments due to the lack of electricity, potentially causing financial losses. Families faced the challenge of preserving Tobaski meals without proper refrigeration, leading to wasted food. These losses can be particularly severe, with reports of some families losing the equivalent of more than two months' income.

The lack of water further compounded these problems. Many households struggled to prepare meals, clean, and perform essential hygiene practices. This is particularly concerning for public health, especially in areas with limited access to sanitation facilities.

Access to water and electricity are not privileges, they are fundamental human rights.

These are essential resources that underpin our ability to live healthy and productive lives. The United Nations explicitly recognizes the human right to water and sanitation, and access to reliable electricity is becoming increasingly crucial in the modern world.

A Call for Reform at Nawec

These issues highlight the urgent need for a complete overhaul of Nawec's approach. Here are some crucial steps:

Improved communication and transparency:

Nawec must prioritize keeping its customers informed about outages (both water and electricity) including causes and estimated restoration times.

Open the market:

Consideration should be given to opening the electricity and water markets to greater competition, potentially leading to improved service and efficiency.

Focus on service:

Nawec's primary focus should be on delivering reliable electricity and water service to all Gambians.

Clean house:

Addressing any internal issues that hinder performance and rebuilding trust with the public is essential.

Losing the trust of its customers is a serious issue for Nawec. Regaining that trust requires a genuine commitment to reform and a focus on providing the Gambian people with the reliable electricity and water service they deserve.

Gambians Deserve Better:

The Gambian people deserve to celebrate Tobaski and other important occasions without the worry of facing hours-long power cuts or water shortages. They deserve a public service provider that is transparent, accountable, and delivers on its core mission of ensuring all Gambians have access to these basic human rights. Nawec must take decisive action to address these chronic issues and ensure that all Gambians have access to the essential resources they need to live with dignity.

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Copyright: 2017 - 2022 | GunjurOnline™
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