Central Bank’s decision to allocate $3m monthly to Ezra raises concerns

USD Banknotes | Photo : File
USD Banknotes | Photo : File

The Central Bank’s decision to allocate a whopping $3 million per month to the private electricity company, Ezra, to run its daily operations, worries economists and experts.

Speaking in an interview with a Juba-based radio station last week, the Central Bank Governor, Hon. Dier Tong defended his decision, saying the money is being used to purchase and import heavy fuel from foreign countries.

“For us, there is the issue of heavy fuel that is needed for electricity to be available. There are companies that have been sub-contracted,” Governor Dier Tong explained.

In the past few months, the electricity company, Ezra Group, reached an agreement with the relevant authorities after they had threatened to cut off electricity supplies across the city due to the government’s failure to provide hard currency.

Dier emphasized that the important thing is not the money that the government allocates, but the electricity that supplies the entire city.

“We see the bigger picture is not Ezra, we are not just giving this money to Ezra Company, and we think that there is a service that is benefiting our people and it is good that the Central Bank has the capacity to support that.”

The Juba City Power Distribution System was constructed with the support of the African Development Bank, which provided 38 million US dollars.

Ezra announces power outage over fuel shortages in Juba

Due to a lack of operational resources, the country’s public utility company, the Ezra Group, has announced a complete blackout in the capital, Juba, from Tuesday until further notice.

“Ezra Construction and Development Group (ECDG) is hereby writing to your office to notify you that the EZRA power plant is due to shut-down on 12th January 2021,” the utility firm notified members of the public on Sunday.

The company explained that it had informed the relevant authorities of the possibility of power outages, as the electricity was running on low fuel, but their advice fell on deaf ears.

“In reference to several communications with the different stake holders and lastly a letter dated 05th January 2021 addressed to the Hon Minister of Energy and Dams in which you were provided a copy, we stated that we were experiencing a low-run of fuel which would allow plant operation for utmost 5 days,” the company said.

Ezra regrets that had the Ministry of Energy and Dams acted in timely manner, the power outages would have been avoided.

“It is unfortunate that there has been no action taken to deter the above occurrences and therefore the Plant will shut down effective the above stated date until further notice. We appreciate your understanding in this matter.”