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REA power grid expansion game-changer

THE commissioning of the K7.3 million Kalungu-Sansamwenje grid extension project in Isoka by Rural Electrification Authority (REA) comes at an opportune time when rural areas are in a hurry to develop following Government’s approval of most of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects.
Definitely, the expanded electricity grid in Muchinga Province will boost economic activities in the area especially that the province has been importing some of its power from neighbouring Malawi.
It is indisputable that dependence on power from Malawi for some areas has had its challenges, particularly that a lot of people still remained without access to electricity as a result of power-cuts.
While it can be said that the importation of power from Malawi has served the people of Isoka and surrounding areas well over the years, one cannot fathom the fact that Zambia, having been politically independent for 58 years, still relied on the neighbouring country for electricity.
We echo Muchinga Province Permanent Secretary Henry Mukungule’s sentiment that Muchinga, as a new province, is lagging behind in development because most places are not connected to the national grid.
“We realise the rural communities have not had the chance of accessing electricity and most of them have lived in the dark for ages. It is just imperative that as we develop as a country, we develop together with them,” Mr Mukungule said.
To enable the rural populace to enjoy the fruits of independence, Mr Mukungule said REA should continue connecting them to the national grid.
He said private sector inclusion is the fastest way to develop the province’s energy sector.
REA has done a commendable job to connect people of Isoka district to the national power grid to guarantee their uninterrupted access to electricity.
According to REA chief executive officer Linus Chanda, the project is planned to have social and economic benefits for a catchment of 12,741 people.
The project was a partial labour-based contract which was signed between REA and Kailjee Zambia Construction Limited in 2018.
It will service DARS memorial, Chilanga, Tuta, Kapilonga, Ndele, Sandamwenje, Nachanga and Kalungu Primary schools.
There is need for electricity in rural areas more than ever before because of the ambitious programme by the new dawn government to develop the country through decentralisation as attested by the increase in CDF allocation to constituencies from a paltry K1.6 million per constituency in the previous government to a whopping K25.7 million per constituency.
Indeed the various projects identified by residents in the area require steady supply of electricity.
The electricity grid extension will also attract external investment needed to stir economic growth in the area.
We urge residents to guard the power installations jealously as vandalism will negate the efforts made by REA to improve people’s livelihoods in the countryside.
The amount involved in the project is too huge to be wasted by vandals and scrap metal dealers taking advantage of any power installation these days.
The scope of works for the project included installation of 56 kilometres of 11 kilovolt power lines and another 9.2 kilometres of low voltage lines to connect the targeted institutions.
School authorities whose institutions have been connected to the power grid have a duty to safeguard the installations so that learners get uninterrupted power supply for their studies.
They should also sensitise pupils on the danger of electricity to avoid electrocutions in their dormitories and any other place within school premises where there are such installations.
We urge REA to keep up the good work as connection of places to the national electricity grid has helped many people where service has been provided.
We also would like to implore REA to roll out the project in other provinces where it has not been since the programme started.