The WAPP project entails the provision of electricity to the four countries and seeks to offer people the access to reliable and affordable. It involves a power transmission line of 225 kw, running through 1, 303 km with eleven (11) sub-stations – four in Liberia, five in Sierra Leone, and two in Guinea. Ivory Coast will be hub and will initially provide power to the other three countries.
The implementation of the project has been entrusted to TRANSCO, which would provide the property, the financing for the construction, operation and the development of the line with funds from the World Bank, ADB, EIB, and KfW.
In Sierra Leone, the project would be implemented in seven districts, namely: Pujehun, Kenema, Bombali, Kono, Kambia, Koinadugu and Tonkolili. It will cover a distance of about 529 km.
“We have conducted ESMP and RAP studies to mitigate the negative impact of the project on the population and the environments,” Kolani said at the meeting held on the second floor of the Aberdeen Complex Building, situated at 58 Sir Samuel Lewis Road, Aberdeen in Freetown. He said even though the aim of the project was to provide electricity, they were also mindful of the safety of the lives of the people and their communities.
Therefore, Mr Kolani went on, the company will ensure that all contractors comply with and apply existing and current environmental laws and regulations in the respective countries and funding agencies. He added that TRANSCO would make sure that contractors respect the seven Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which defines the role and specific responsibilities for environmental and social issues.
These standards include: Environmental assessment and management; labor and working conditions; resource efficiency and pollution prevention; community health, safety, and security; land acquisition and involuntary resettlement; biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of living natural resources; and cultural heritage.
Kolani went further to explain that the Environmental and Social Management Plan was defined according to the works for specific sites.
After the approval of the ESMP, each party shall be informed periodically of its quarterly state of implementation, Kolani said. He promised that TRANSCO CLSG will make available to the NGOs monitoring the project the ESMP and the RAP to ensure proper monitoring.
Acting Deputy Director General of the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (EGTC), Engineer John Kabia, said implementation of the project in Sierra Leone had so far been successful, adding that the project when completed would address electricity supply challenges in all four countries and other countries in the sub region.
“It’s going to be a 225, 000 volt transmission line and this will allow power to be transported across the four countries,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said the electricity supply line will run from the Liberia-Sierra Leone border through Kenema, and then it will pass on the western side of the Gola Forest National Park, through Bikongor-Bumbuna-Yiben-Kamakwie-Kambia which is close to Guinea.
Engineer Kabia went on to say that the project would enable Sierra Leone to provide electricity for onward distribution to other West African countries. To ensure this is successful, he said the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy had been trying to develop potential hydroelectric power plants across the country so as to ensure that it is able to generate more power for distributions.
“If we have power from Bumbuna, we can sell that power to Togo. All we need to do is to send it to the transmission line and TRANSCO will levy the fees for the use of the transmission line,” he said.
He said many countries could be interested to purchase the power generated because power from hydroelectric is relatively cheaper when compared to other forms of electricity generation and supply.
Making his presentation, Paul Lamin, head of Natural Resource at Environmental Protection Agency – Sierra Leone (EPA-SL), recommended that TRANSCO hired an environmental officer who would liaise between the two institutions to ensure implementation of the project in terms of adhering to the environmental protection laws of the country while implementing the ESMP. He said EPA-SL has different strategies to monitor projects that were being implemented in every part of the country, noting that these strategies used would help the agency to detect lapses in the implementation in terms of compliance with environmental laws.
Another government representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Thomas Dickson Kallon, Deputy Director of Forestry, said the ministry had already developed a project titled: TRANSCO CLSG interconnection, reforestation and afforestation programme. This project, he explained, targets 400 beneficiaries and is estimated to last for 3 years starting June 2016 to June 2019, with a budget of Le 1.2 billion ($200, 000).
“The overall objective of the reforestation and afforestation programme is to deter imminent environmental catastrophe, restore disturbed forest ecosystem and enhance stability,” he stated.