Long Electricity

Cuts 5 days a week !

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On the way listening to our transmitter. Suddely our program stapped and Radio Tanzania coould be heard instead. What happened?

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Unfortunately the way up had been closed and we had to find a way around

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The porters are checking their load and give us their price to carry everything up

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The safari starts at the house of our watchman

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Starting to climbe Mt. Kivesi, about 2000m high

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The way is very slippery it is hard to klimbe

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We try to get grip in the thorny wheeds aside

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Filling Acid into the batteries

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New batteries in service

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We went down again after the rain has finished

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Bringing old batteries down

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Bak to to the car


On Monday we got the headlines: "Whole Tanzania will be black out from 8 o’clock up to midnight"

Actually we have planned to drive to Mlalo this week to repair the transmitter there, and next week back to Kibaya. Both places got electricity problems right now.

But after those headlines we asked: If none of our booster places is still on air, is it really necessary to go to Mlalo or should we make sure at least the transmitter in Moshi and in Arusha stays on air all the time during the worst power cut in the history of Tanzania?

In the afternoon I made a internet research, especially the internet page of the Tanesco. It showed me, that the case is not so bad as the headlines wanted to tell us. There is a power cut from 8:00-18:00, and on other places from 18:00 to 23:00 hours. The Electricity will not be available 5 times a week, tree times during day time and two times during night time.

Costs for a generator would be around 40 000Ths for 10 hours of Diesel without purchasing the generator, for just one day! That was out of question for our budget.

What if we would reduce the power by 10 dB and run it on battery:

If we would place four 200Ah batteries, the transmitter would stay in air several days, and charger: We received 2 new 48V chargers for Kibaya. We could borrow one to Arusha for the hard times, and make sure at least the transmitter in Moshi and in Arusha stays on air all the times!

So we decided to buy the extra batteries required in Arusha and bring them up Kivesi yesterday on Wednesday.

On the way, listening to our transmitter in Arusha, suddenly our program discontinued and Radio Tanzania (TBC) could be heard instead. What had happened? Philemon told us that TBC started new transmitters in Babati and Moshi. Had one been using our assigned frequency of Arusha now? We asked Deo in Hai, what he is listening, and found out that even Kidia Transmitter carries the national program. Then I tried to phone the technician in charge. He was not available. I asked Agnes at the gate, and she told me he just left! He left and the power failed at the studio! Philemon called the producer in charge and he returned the transmitter at the studio on air again! We were glad that we were on air again! So the new    receiving Antenna in Kidia picking up the new TBC station from Babati, while the transmitter in the studio was not on air!

I was so glad that we solved the problem before we reached Arusha town!

First we passed by the Exide Shop to buy two additional 200Ah batteries. Philemon made a good bargain, and the battery was cheaper than the last ones!

Then we left Philemon at the head office and went to get up to Kivesi. Unfortunately the road up was closed, because they had to repair a bridge right at the main road. We called Luka, our watchman. He advised us where to get up no to get stuck.

He waited for us already when we arrived with two additional porters. We showed all we had to carry up, and they gave us the price. It had to be negotiated some bit to bring it down however!

We had 4 heavy batteries and two big carry cans of acid. It had been easier to carry the batteries without acid because of weight. Carrying 30 kg on your head on a steep, very slippery ground is not easy!

We took off the shoes to get more grip and feel when slipping starts, and tried to get hold beside the way in the weeds whenever possible.

We were so glad no one got hurt or none of the batteries got dropped and broke on the way up. Now we had to fill the batteries with acid very carefully not to spill it anywhere.

We replaced the old ones plus the charger in the transmitter cabin. Luckily we had still electricity to test all before we left! We noticed that the charger is so strong it makes the circuit breaker of the building to blow after some time! After correcting this we went down again. Temba, our driver, tried to take down two of the old batteries in town, because the charges of the porters had been higher than what we would have got for the scraper!

The way down was even more slippery than when we came up, because the rain passed again while we were connecting the  new batteries. But the batteries still had to be pulled hard because of the stones on the way. And we thought they would go down nearly without work! We took off shortly before it had been dark, and arrived in Moshi around 8 o’clock.

Martin Ahnert

May, 19th 2011