Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lack of power continues to haunt business services

AS Tanzania is currently faced with erratic power supply, the continued power rationing system has contributed greatly to the slowing down of industrial production operations and office business activities have paralyzed. The trend continues to affect operators’ incomes and offices which operates in mostly affected areas by power blues, have to halt their works to a considerable length of time until the electricity power supply from the national grid comes back. Due to unreliable power supply in most parts of the country, the situation has caused congestion of work load in some private and government offices whose activities are mostly driven by computer systems applications that help keep going their official records. In order to keep abreast with the normal daily productions, some big organizations, companies and some individual business enterprises resort to the use of mostly diesel machine generators or solar energy for power supply to keep their businesses going. Due to the prevailing situation, charges for business services such as internet surfing and secretarial services and others have increased considerably.

Two patrolling policemen stands in dismay watching a man who volunteered himself to climb a top to put off fire (after seeing the fire brigade were late to report to the scene) by using a simple fire-extinguisher in an electric transformer which had caught fire. The incident occurred recently near the Big Bon petrol station along Msimbazi street at the heart of Kariakoo business district in Dar es Salaam. However, the fire brigade who came later in the scene found the fire was already put off.

Internet café owners operating in some suburbs on the outskirts of the city of Dar es Salaam have said that, “they have to increase surfing charges to cater for the extra costs incurred through using generators during power blackouts”. Mr. Thomas Kigu an attendant of the sun-rise internet café operating at Kijitonyama said in an interview with this paper that, due to high expenses they incur to run a machine for power generation emanating from the costs of oil, charges for surfing which normally stands at Tshs. 1,200/- has increased by 50 percent to Tshs. 1,800/- per hour. However, he added that, but when there is normal power supply from the national grid, the prices comes down to normal. Another business man Mr. Obadia Bulemo, a resident of Tegeta suburb in Kinondoni district is among the many petty traders whose business is adversely affected by power blues. He runs a secretarial bureau office in a hired house but his principal business place is often inconvenienced by power rationing in the area an aspect that results into a low profit levels at the end of the day. Apart from businessmen, office workers are also worried about the compelling problems which includes poor telephone services on fixed lines, and bandwidth allocation that users sometimes call the service givers as the unseen saboteurs, says one office attendant whose company’s fixed telephones remains unworkable during power blackouts. A typical case study of the situation happened recently in one family at Kipunguni “B” suburb in Ilala district when they had gathered in the evening at their sitting room watching a television broadcast with an interest to know the names of the newly appointed cabinet ministers by President Jakaya Kikwete in early November, but suddenly power went off. Distraught and anger reigned among them as their television stopped thereby disrupting a luxurious moment they had of watching the up-coming news bulletin. A lot has been attributed to such shadow experience by users and there has been so many sayings emanating from people’s minds reflecting on carelessness and or laziness caused by TANESCO firm for its failure to maintain its infrastructure. Despite of this, it’s very sad to note that, Tanzania has been experiencing power rationing occasionally and the reasons is attributed due to poor electricity infrastructures or worn out electricity machines. A spokesperson of a sole National Utility Firm (TANESCO) Mrs Badra Masoud recently highlighted the main cause of the TANESCO’s failure to perfect delivery were exacerbated by a number of reasons that includes the following. The low water levels in most hydro-electricity power generating stations in the country, the breaking down of most electricity power plants, lack of fuel from IPTL the company which was contracted to generate electricity for TANESCO and many others. Meanwhile, the recent increase of the electricity charges of 18.5 percent by the state power monopoly (TANESCO) which begins effectively as from January 2011 is a thorn on the flesh of power stakeholders including users in the country.
Economic analysts have described the decision that would drastically raise the cost of normal standards of living for Tanzanian people. This would be compounded by stagnating incomes exacerbated by rising inflation and a relentlessly falling value of the local currency. Following the announcements, already manufacturers and service providers have categorically stated that there is bound to be price increases of goods and services. Invariably a hike in electricity charges almost automatically translates into increased costs of doing business that the people cannot avoid. Some people in the country especially stakeholders in the power sector have advised the government to change the trend and allow investors to come and invest in electricity power generation in order to save the country from being in darkness. Engineer Sylvester Kataraia of Mwanza has commended that, power generation from hydro-power stations in the country which the nation has been depending on ever since independence time in 1961 (almost five decades), is outdated. However, he has asked the government to take a new turn and other measures together with adopting modern ways by which Tanzania could use like other countries in the world to obtain an up-to-date electricity supply instead of depending on hydro-power generation stations which during water shortages their machines fails to produce the required kilowatts..

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