The solar charging kiosk in Potoru Town, Barri Chiefdom of Pujehun District, established by the European Union through the Pujehun District Council to provide affordable cell phone charging for residents, has become non-functional, now referred to as a white elephant, causing frustration among the community.

The solar kiosk was intended to be a game-changer for Potoru, offering an affordable alternative to private cell phone charging stations, which charge NLe 6 for charging a power bank—a considerable expense for the many jobless individuals in the town. The EU initiative proposed a significantly lower fee of NLe 2, providing substantial savings and easing the financial burden on the community.

To ensure the station’s sustainable operation, selected youths and stakeholders from Potoru were sent to the district headquarter town of Pujehun for training on managing and maintaining the facility. However, reports have surfaced that the Potoru Town Chief Lahai Magona connived with the trained workers to allegedly abscond with the station’s equipment, share valuable resources among themselves and leave the facility in disrepair.

The once-hopeful project now stands as a symbol of mismanagement and corruption. The building is not in good condition, and the solar station’s intended benefits are lost, leaving residents to continue paying high fees for phone charging.

It could be recalled that a startup cash of Ten thousand new leones (NLe 10,000), assorted chargers and other gadgets was handed over to the selected youths and stakeholders from each of the Chiefdoms, who were trained to operate the solar kiosk.

Bockarie Teteh, one of the youths accused of absconding with funds and equipment, provided his perspective, stating that the solar kiosk developed faults and, even after repairs, could not charge up to two phones at a time. He mentioned that even though he is now working with the Community Health Clinic but usually sleeps at the kiosk to secure it, strongly denying the allegations against them.

A resident, George Lukulay, expressed his concern, urging for accountability and intervention. “This is corruption to the last degree,” he stated. “If anyone knows the truth, please come forward. I hope the Member of Parliament representing us and who is Chief Executive Oversight, Honorable Mariama Munia Zombo, gets this message,” he added.

The Pujehun District Council is yet to provide information surrounding the solar kiosk.

The community’s disappointment is palpable, as the project, designed to alleviate economic strain, has instead exacerbated it due to the alleged misdeeds of those entrusted with its operation. The call for justice and the restoration of the solar charging station is growing louder among Potoru’s residents.