Juba, National

Juba Traders lose over 100m SSP in power-cuts

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce estimates traders incur losses of over 100 million South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), due to irregular power supply in South Sudan city, Juba.  

The Chamber of commerce holds power supplier, Juba Electricity Distribution Company Limited [JEDCO], responsible for the loss.

Chairperson of Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Robert Pitia said the damages were as a result of JEDCO’s negligence.

He noted that intermittent electricity supply forces traders to take up options to power up their businesses at extra costs.

“It goes to a lot of millions, hundreds of millions (South Sudan) pounds because you know, for example, you have a supermarket that has some sensitive products that need electricity and when the power goes off, that means there is no electricity, that makes them to look for generator, fuel it to make sure that this business operates,” Pitia explained.

He stressed that businesses are going down while looking for alternative sources of energy which incur extra costs on electricity.

The impact of inefficient services of JEDCO can’t only be felt by business entities but also in residential areas.

“In other townships now, they have already forgotten that they have reliable electricity. And yet they pay more money, and they are not sure of the durability and efficiency of electricity,” Pitia added.

He asserted that businesses that have lost up to a million pounds due to JEDCO’s unreliability can sue the power plant in court for damages.

“Meaning that one person may go to, for example, one million SSP in damage. When you calculate them, how many supermarkets there lose money? This is just an example.”

The State chamber of commerce chairperson now put JEDCO on notice saying they might sue the power distributor if they continue to act irresponsibly.

“But if they don’t change, we are going to make sure they pay for these people’s damages, because if you pay money for services and you don’t get the services, people have a right to take you to court,” he said.

Pitia also underlined that users of power suffer from accessing the electricity that they have paid for and wouldn’t enjoy it due to the influence of some greedy individuals.

He added that JEDCO has categorized their offers for traders and home residents that are levied based on the black-market exchange rates.

“JEDCO has commercial and residential services. They have different prices [charges] for the commercial and the residential. They charge traders and people using the black-market rates, while they are getting money from the Central Bank,” Pitia exclaimed.

Pitia said “If JEDCO and EZRA group of companies have no capacity to deliver efficient, reliable electricity to traders and people, why [should] the government get in contact with them? People are absolutely essential. You cannot give a company which is not providing efficient and reliable services in terms of power.”

“Let JEDCO and EZRA group of companies tell us when are they going to fix this mess by action and results? And if they don’t deliver efficient and reliable electricity to the traders and people, let them tell us that they cannot deliver.”

Pitia disclosed that people pay a lot of money to buy electricity poles and cables and to get connected to the power grid and access power, calling on the government to intervene.

“If the government officials who signed this agreement cannot intervene to settle this urgent matter, [then] they are part and partial of this mess which has created suffering to the people and businesses” he added.

Last Friday, JEDCO in their official Facebook page notified the public about their new unplanned partial load-shedding citing power plant maintenance.

“As you know, last week, there was a general power interruption. According to the latest reports, it will take no more than four weeks to restore,” the statement from JEDCO page partly read.

“We apologize for the inconvenience. However, the power plant engineers have assured us they will accomplish the task within the mentioned time frame”, it added.

South Sudan has been struggling with electricity power supply issues for over a decade and that partly contributes to the absence of proper investments and industrialization.

After living without reliable electric energy, Juba City in November 2019 was partly powered by Ezra Group of Companies, which developed and operated the Juba Thermal Power Station situated at the bank of the Nile east of the city center.

Juba residents and businesses cheerily welcomed the first phased new 33-megawatt power plant that was inaugurated by President Salva Kiir in November 2019.

But the excitement was short-lived when the electricity supply under its distributor JEDCO began being unreliable, with abrupt and continuous power cuts and load shadings, costing businesses losses.

However, our efforts to reach the power supplier JEDCO and the national ministry of energy, for comments were fruitless, as contacts of responsible officials could not easily be obtained.

Meanwhile, according to USAID, South Sudan has the lowest electricity consumption per capita in sub-Saharan Africa, due in part to its underdeveloped energy infrastructure, which has been severely impacted by decades of conflict.

The investment in power generation and transmission infrastructure is considered a priority by the government. However, securing the intensive capital required from both public and private sector financiers remains a critical challenge.


Comments are closed.