Liberia: Voice of Tappita Calls for Help

... Needs US$24K for rehabilitation 

One of Nimba County’s oldest community radio stations, Voice of Tappita, is at the brink of collapse due to lack of sustainable electricity to power the station.

The station, which won the the Press Union of Liberia “2008 Best Community Radio Station in Liberia award, may soon be shut down if nothing is done to provide sustainable power and equipment.

According to the Technical Supervisor of the station Mr. Jacob Bantu, sInce the establishment of the station in 2005, it has been relying on electricity provided by Orange Liberia. The station’s facilities were attached to the tower of the Liberia Telecommunication in Tappita, but Orange Liberia is to relocate soon, something many believe could cause the station to shut down.

Mr. Jacob Bantu told this paper they have embarked on a number of fundraising initiatives for the installation of a solar panel plant to provide electricity for the station, but the management is not receiving the expected outcome. 

Mr. Bantu puts the cost of the solar panel plant and procuring of new materials or equipment to over $24,000 citing two quotations received from A&J Pacific Enterprise Limited, a solar energy company in Liberia and Broadcast Store, an Italian equipment supplier based in Italy.

“We have run this station for seventeen years now, but the station is at the brink of collapse due to the depreciation of our equipment and the lack of electricity,” he said in a low voice.

According to him, though Orange Liberia is providing electricity currently, the telecommunications operator is expected to relocate to another locality far from the radio station, which is located around the old Liberia Telecommunication tower.

“To construct a solar panel, it will cost about  $12,000 and at least last for twenty five years, while the rest of the needed money will be used to purchase a new mixer, antenna, transmitter and other equipment because nearly all the equipment is depleting,” he said. 

Mr. Bantu explained that the management is unable to relocate the station to follow Orange Liberia to its new site around Thomas Hill, Tappita, because the little funds in their coffers were used to rehabilitate the building before the relocation notice was served.

“The little money we had was used to put tiles in the building, change the sound proof in the studio and attached offices to the building,” Mr. Bantu said.

Mr. Jacob Bantu noted that electricity provided by the West African Power Pool is available in Tappita, but its constant fluctuation has damaged several equipment, something he said they can’t rely on. 

“It is a challenging moment for us at the station and it is time for every well-meaning citizen to come to the aid of the station,” he explained.

He said the current equipment used by the station were provided by Radio Netherlands through the Liberia Media Center; the current transmitter by USAID through IREX, but these equipment were believed to be depreciating.

However, Technical Supervisor of the station, Mr. Jacob Bantu, is urging citizens of Tappita District to take responsibility for the radio station, ensuring that it does not collapse. “In the absence of donor funding we can rally to get the back on track.”

Mr. Bantu also praised Rep. Dorwoan Gleekia of Nimba District #6 for setting up another radio station in Tappita, but reminded him that the Voice of Tappita is the mother station and also the voice of the district that needs his full support to remain on air.