Multimillion solar project heralds new beginning for Garissa residents
SEE ALSO :KenGen to manage Garissa solar plantThe local community from the larger Raya Location, which has for decades endured the indignity of lack of power, is upbeat that with the project, their fortunes will change for better. Ms Fatuma Yarow, 51, who lives in a crowded manyatta a distance away from the solar plant, says it has been difficult living in darkness for years. “We only rely on torches. Wild animals and snakes stray into our compounds at night. We hope this project will light up this area,” Yarow says. Two days ago, she told us, she lost two goats at night as she tussled with a hyena. Total darkness
SEE ALSO :KenGen to operate nuclear power plantAbdi Sagar, 33, who lives in the neighbouring Shabah village, concurs, saying only three shops are connected to electricity in his locality. The rest of the homesteads numbering about 300 are condemned to total darkness. “If the project will make power accessible and affordable to all that is welcome. Everybody here needs electricity. It is what we have been crying for for many years,” says Sagar. He is one of about 60 locals who work at the project site as casuals. They are paid Sh700 a day. He however wants the government to consider them for permanent jobs once the project is completed. Mumin Gedi, the chairman of Baar Rahma village, which has about 200 households, is the only one who has connected power to his house. “We envision a situation whereby the local schools and health centres will be lit up. Many more households will also be in a position to connect to electricity,” says Gedi. As Raya Community and surrounding areas are about to be lit up, the busy Garissa town is also set to get a major boost, with small-scale industrial investors set to flood in. Currently, the town relies on the long hydro-power lines from Kindaruma dam, whose power is highly unreliable. Frequent power outages are a constant inconvenience to businesses and facilities such as Garissa Provincial General Hospital. REA Managing Director Peter Mbugua told Saturday Standard that the solar project would be complete by end of September and would immediately stabilise power in Garissa town and other surrounding areas such as Madogo and Bangaley.