Bumbuna II is a key part of the Government’s long-term Energy Strategy to provide more electricity to households and businesses. It will add a further 143MW of power to Sierra Leone. Importantly, it will also provide a minimum of 80MW of reliable electricity throughout the year, Beckley said.
According to Patrick O Beckley Executive Chairman Seli Hydro Power during a public disclosure meeting held in Bumbuna Town on the Environmental Social Health Impact Assessment Report (ESHIA) is expected to be completed within four years by Joule Africa and local partner ESCO.
He said when completed, Bumbuna II is expected to provide significant local and national economic benefits, at the same time reducing the country’s current power deficit and reducing its dependence on expensive and polluting oil-fired thermal power generation.
He said the project includes building an extension to the existing Bumbuna I facility which will include 3 new turbines, building a new dam 32 km upstream at Yiben which will include 2 new turbines.
He added that the project will also create a new reservoir of water behind the Yiben dam wall covering approx. 115 km2 with the creation of buffer zones around the infrastructure to protect the community from potential hazards such as high flood, dust, noise, or electrocution building new and improved roads.
Once generated, Beckley said the electricity will be distributed by a new 225kV transmission line running from Yiben in the north of Sierra Leone, to Freetown in the West. This transmission line will also link up with the new Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (CSLG) extension, joining up with the West African Power Pool.
The General Manager of Seli Hydropower Herb Gammons said the project implementation will start this year with the establishment of construction site and relocation of affected communities.
According to Ralph Bona a consultant of the ESHIA report from CEMMAT Consulting firm the project implementation will affect people, homes and livelihoods and biodiversity.
He also disclosed that the project will put in place mitigation measures through resettlement and compensation of affected families.
James Harding Environment Social Health and Safety Manager said several communities have to relocate around the project area with the consent of affected communities. He said several consultations has been held with the affected communities on the project
In addition to improving the local economy, Harding said Seli Hydropower is also committed to preserving the heritage and cultures of nearby villages to include resettlement action plan for affected communities and the establishment of community development action plan
He said consideration will be giving to agricultural development and training, light provision for households and associated facilities, improvement of public infrastructure, such as schools and health centres water sanitation programme business training creation of better access roads.
Paramount Chief Alimammy Koroma welcomed the project but cautioned that mistakes of Bumbuna phase 1 will be addressed in the phase 11 project so as to reduce.
Beren Foster of the Environmental Protection Agency properly explained about the essence of the Environmental Social Health Impact Assessment Report (ESHIA) and urged affected communities to make their inputs before the final Environmental license is issued.
The Director of Energy in the Ministry of Energy Benjamin Kamara who chaired the public disclosure spoke about Government commitment to improve on electricity across the country with the use of thermal plants, dams and solar energy so as to promote economic growth.