Freetown in the dark : Sierra Leone’s prolonged power crisis exposes SLPP Government’s governance failure

*Freetown in the Dark: Sierra Leone’s Prolonged Power Crisis Exposes SLPP Governance Failure*

Written by
Alhaji K. Tarawally (Laj-K)
Governance & Youth Activist

*Our country’s capital city, Freetown, is enduring a crisis of darkness, marking the longest stretch without electricity since the country’s independence in 1961.* For almost six days, the residents of Freetown have been navigating life without power, a situation that has not only disrupted daily living but also raised profound concerns about the governance and financial stability of the nation.

*The silence from the main opposition party, the All People’s Congress (APC), civil society organisations, religious leaders, advocacy organisations and other political parties is deafening, leading to speculation among the populace that there might be a bipartisan failure between the main opposition APC and the SLPP to address the dire situation.* This unprecedented blackout has revealed deep-seated challenges within Sierra Leone’s energy sector and the broader political and economic landscape.

The root of the current crisis can be traced back to a financial dispute between the government of Sierra Leone and the Turkish Karpowership. This Turkish company supplies a significant portion of Sierra Leone’s electricity via floating power plants at the sea. On April 9th, 2024, Karpowership notified our Chief Minister Moinina David Sengeh of their intention to suspend operations unless outstanding payments totalling US$27,102,555 from 2022 to 2023 were settled by April 15th. The looming threat of this suspension has now become a stark reality, plunging the capital into darkness.

May be an image of television and text that says 'ROCISORARCA DOG NEWS Sierra Leone: Prolonged power cuts * "'

The financial strain on Sierra Leone’s government is apparent, with a source from the Ministry of Finance confirming the nation’s severe fiscal constraints. This economic predicament raises questions about the government’s prioritisation of expenditures, as concerns are voiced over the exponential costs of international travel by the President and his government officials. These practices strain an overburdened economy, prompting the suffering masses to demand greater fiscal responsibility and transparency.

*As the nation approaches its sixth consecutive night without power, the irony is not lost on anyone that even to read the government’s long-release documents, one would need the electricity in short supply.* The people of Sierra Leone deserve better. They deserve a government that lights up their homes, powers their businesses, and brightens their future. It is time for Sierra Leone to turn the power back on, not just in the literal sense but also in terms of its governance and financial accountability.

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