The Gombe State government on Wednesday approved N3.2 billion to run solar street lights for a period of five years.
This, according to the State Commissioner for Works Bappah Abubakar, is a departure from the contractual agreement whereby previous administrations used N1.14 billion to service power generating set for street lights.
Abubakar, accompanied by Commissioners for Information Alhassan Kwami, Finance Muhammad Magaji, and Environment Hussaina Goje, revealed this in a chat with reporters shortly after State Government Executive Council meeting at the Government House, Gombe.
He frowned at a situation where some parts of Gombe metropolis do not have functional traffic lights, even as he blamed vandals who stole the batteries for it.
“We have observed some form of vandalism on those street traffic lights have been stolen by vandals and we are trying to put them back and inaugurate them very soon,” Abubakar said.
He said the vandals deliberately attacked some of the affected traffic lights spots to dismantle the batteries.
“The completion date for the solar street light project is three months, beginning from when the Engineers will be handed the site and after the installation, the contractors are going to run it for five years. Within the period, there will be a warranty, and they will train our youths to who they will hand over to operate the system.
“Prior to now, our street light system has been on the generator. The last contract was at the cost of N1.14 billion. The contract was entered into when the cost of diesel was not even as high as it is now. So, if we are to renew this contract in the next year, the cost will be twice due to the cost of electrical fittings,” he said.
He added that the first phase will cover only 71km of the township roads, stressing that the state government considered various alternative power supply but it was comfortable with solar.
“We have taken the street light in two lots; this is the first lot, the second lot is being processed for the contract to be awarded. The first lot covers 71km of Gombe township roads and the second will be the dual carriageway which is 42km.
“We are in agreement with the solar project to extend this project to all local government headquarters. There is an urgent need for us to provide street light in the town. So, we are doing it as a matter of urgency.
“We have considered other options but we feel the solar would be more effective. We have looked at other states and solar is working perfectly. We are reverting to solar now as a cheap alternative power supply but after five years, there may be another technology cheaper than the solar and we can revert to that,” he added.