By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
October 29, 2012 (BENTIU) – A private company has taken over the management of a state-owned power station in Bentiu, Unity state, due its inability to provide fuel in the wake of the national oil production stoppage in January.
- Map of South Sudan’s Unity State.
Chuol Bangoang Poon & Son Electricity Company Ltd. has taken charge of the power station form Benitu Electricity Cooperation (BECO) which has been unable to source sufficient fuel supplies since February.
Despite the shortage of fuel and the implementation of austerity measures the company has taken on the task of returning electricity to the area.
With the signing of agreements between Juba and Khartoum in September there is hope that the resumption oil production will improve the economic situations of both countries will improve.
Juba halted oil-production in a row with its northern neighbour over the use of its infrastructure to pipe it out of landlocked South Sudan. As oil accounts for more than 75 percent of South Sudan’s revenues its stoppage had a dramatic effect on its economy.
Authorities from the state Ministry of Physical Infrastructure signed a temporary deal with new company to run the power station, which resumed operations on 15 October.
The company’s manager, Banasio Bangoang Yang says their aims are to provide better services within both Bentiu and Rubkotna county.
“Our objectives in running this power station are to make sure that the indigenous community of Bentiu town are benefiting from the electricity. Our target is to make sure that every home has power [...] we will switch on the power from 8.00am to 3:30 pm and from 7:00pm to midnight,” said Yang.
- Unity State Flag (GoSS)
The Unity state fuel supply was partially cut off from Juba due to recent flooding along the Mayiandit-Rumbek road. However, some local traders have been bringing fuel via boat.
Power for Unity’s citizens was previously available for a 30SSDG per month. The new company will charge 150SSDG per month and 20SSDG per day for shops in the market; a move welcomed by local traders.
However, Obac Apaljam Doayowk Akol, a trader within Bentiu Suok Saba (market seven), claims the services offered by the new company do not match their schedules but acknowledged that current fuel prices are causing them difficulties.
According to Peter Chany Gatjiek, director of electricity in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, “we don’t have enough fuel to operate this power station.”
He explained that the power station has three engines, running running on 2500 Kilo Volt Amperes (KVA), 810KVA and 2.5 Megawatts. Operating for 10 hours per day requires 11 barrels of oil, “so it is too much. In the town there is no fuel.”
Gatjiek said that if the new company “gets the fuel on the black market it is up to him”. He added that the agreement with the company is a temporary arrangement and when the oil transit deal between Juba and Khartoum takes effect, the government will resume responsibility.
Juba ordered oil companies to restart oil production in October. According to the national minister for petroleum it will take three months for it to reach international markets.
For eight months many of those who previously had electricity in Unity state have been without it or have been relying on generators fuelled by costly oil from the local market.