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Row over maintenance: solar streetlights go dysfunctional

October 23, 2012


RAWALPINDI, Oct 23: Solar-powered streetlights installed in the city at a cost of Rs90 million a few years back have gone out of order due to lack of maintenance.

The maintenance of the streetlights could not be carried out as civic agencies concerned continue to pass the buck to each other.

The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) had installed 40 solar energy lights at 5th Road from Rehmanabad to Commercial Market last year and 90 at Sherpao Colony near Committee Chowk in 2008. However, 90 per cent of these lights have stopped working as there was no arrangement for recharging of the batteries and cleaning their panels.

The RDA claimed that it spent Rs90 million on the installation of the lampposts from grants provided by Hanif Abbasi, MNA. The civic agency also said that when it tried to hand over the lampposts to the Rawal Town Municipal Administration, the latter refused to take over.

Umer Farooq, RDA’s deputy director engineering, admitted that some of the solar energy lights had gone out of order due to lack of maintenance.

“There is a dire need to clean the panels and recharge the batteries. RDA’s main job is town planning and construction of roads and streets, and this (maintenance of streetlights) is the responsibility of the TMA,” he maintained.

In reply to a question, the official said RDA had written to the TMA to take charge of the lampposts but the latter did not respond. “We have no additional fund to repair the batteries and clean the solar energy panels,” he said.

Mr Farooq added that the TMA was earning revenue from advertisements installed on the lampposts but had failed to repair the faulty lights.

On the other hand, Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa told Dawn that they had not received any letter from the RDA. “It is not our job to maintain the solar energy lights as we have no expert to handle them,” he said.

He admitted that the RTMA was earning money from the advertisements hanged on the lampposts. However, he added: “If the RDA hands over the lights to us, we will take care of them.”

As the two civic agencies continued to pass the buck to each other, the residents of the localities said they were suffering a lot. “The area is not safe at night as the streetlights are not working,” said Mohammad Shabbir, a resident of Mukha Singh Estate, while talking to Dawn.

He said he had approached the TMA to complain about the faulty lights but its officials asked him to contact the RDA. “When I went to the RDA, there was no official to listen to my complaint,” he said.

Rizwan Khan, a resident of Sherpao Colony, said the dysfunctional streetlights posed serious problems for the area people. “After sunset, the area comes under darkness,” he said and added that women and students could not go out after sunset.

The residents of Satellite Town’s Block-D, adjacent to 5th Road, said the civic body should repair or replace the lights. “It is the duty of the civic agencies to provide us facilities, including streetlights,” said Suleman Ahmed Malik, a resident of Satellite Town.

Mohammad Farhan, of 5th Road, said commercial activities had increased on the road and the civic body was earning handsome revenue from the residents and traders. “However, it is not willing to provide civic facilities to us.”

He said all requests for repair and maintenance of the streetlights had been ignored by the civic agency.