trusting . resting . following

Kilowatts, where are you going?

June 4, 2012
Round 3 of repairmen at my house and still not fixed!

I'm having issues with my electricity.  My landlord is wonderful and normally he would be taking care of the problem, but he and his wife are missionaries.  They have to take furloughs too.  They won't be back until next spring sometime.  So I'm on my own for this one.

Most homes in Mwanza have been switched to a pay-ahead system rather than being billed monthly for what you use.  It's called LUKU.  I purchase a certain amount of electricity in town and a computerized system spits out a receipt with a 12-digit number.  When I punch that number into a little box outside my house I get credited that amount of electricity.

This pay-ahead system is also how cell phones work here.  In a growing city of somewhere around 1 million people, where most roads have no names and most people have never heard of such a thing as a house number... can you imagine trying to mail a bill to someone?  Not to mention how often people move nor how risky it is here to believe someone will pay for something they've already received and used.

Anyway, back to my story...

A few months ago I started noticing how quickly my credited amount of electricity would run out.  What normally would last 4-6 weeks... $60-70, now only lasted 2 weeks!  For a household of one.  Something was wrong.  To make sure I wasn't just confused, I did a bit of figuring.  I used to use 10-12 kWh per day, but it bumped up to 25 kWh/day!

Two and a half weeks ago I went to the main office for electricity (TANESCO) and asked for help.  They put me in touch with a couple "fundis" (repairmen).  I drove them out to the house.  They looked everything over.  Spent about 1/2 hour doing something, then told me it was fixed.  I gave them each $10 and some change for them to get transportation back into town.

After a few days and no improvement, I went back to the main office to ask someone to come actually check the LUKU box.  I paid the $4 fee, but those fundis were traveling so I had to wait till the next week.  In the meantime I took 2 more fundis back home with me.  These guys checked around.  Then I had to drive them back into town (good thing it's only a 5 min trip!) so they could pick up their "climbing boots."  Then I took them around to my neighbor's house on the back side, so they could climb a pole.  After returning home they checked around more, removed some fallen branches and who knows what else.  After 2 hours they said it was fixed.  I drove them back into town and paid them each $13.

Three days after that... today... I'm using up an average of 18 kWh/day.  Some improvement is good I guess.  I stopped back at the office in the morning to see if the traveling guys were back.   They were!  Brought a guy and a lady this time who are actually employees of the electric company.  They checked my LUKU box.  All is well, but their gadget confirmed that there is serious leakage somewhere.  They checked some indoor appliances, but all seemed well.  I drove them back to the office and begged them to help me find a GOOD fundi, a genuine, quality repairman.  (Dad, how about flying out for a few days?) They're going to let me know. 

So there you have it.  My stateside friends who are reading this, you are probably thinking, "Man, repairmen are cheap in Tanzania!" or maybe, "Lisa's a bit of a cheapskate."  My Tanzanian friends on the other hand will be thinking, "Poor Lisa, she gets jipped (how do you spell that word any way?  is it even a word?) all the time.  She's just a bit too gullible for Africa." 

At this point I don't care how much I get "jipped."  If I can just get someone who can FIX THE PROBLEM!

1 comment on "Kilowatts, where are you going?"
  1. So proud of you! We miss you!!!
    Hugs from Colorado :) Kids want to skype sometime!