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He adds that they believe that some of them require replacement with the right installation and matching parts.

By Our Reporter

GULU: The Gulu City Engineering Department has partnered with an Indian-based solar manufacturing company to assess the needs and challenges relating to solar street lights in the city area.

Engineers and experts from Sahaj Solar Limited, which is based in India, are currently undertaking a pilot research study seeking lasting solutions to the persistent breakdowns of solar street lights within the City area.

Gulu City has 2,447 solar street lights installed within the 64 kilometers of tarmac highway roads constructed under different projects, but at least 227 of them have already broken down and are non-functional, crippling movements and businesses at night.

The Gulu City Engineer, Christo Omara Balmoi, attributes the problems to weather changes, lightning, incidents on streets, poor battery performance and technology, and poor designs and technologies, which he says are beyond their capacities.

In a move to address the challenges, Balmoi disclosed that the City Engineering Department is currently working with a team of experts from Sahaj Solar Limited to assess the situation and recommend the right technologies for the solar street light systems. 

He says that they want to find out the brightness and capacities of light needed in the city area, the size of the battery needed, the size of panels, the optimum design, and the required technology.

Sahaj Solar Limited, a solar manufacturing company from India, through Zeep Constructions Company Limited, which was subcontracted by China Railway 18 (CR18), has randomly installed 480 solar street lights with new technologies in different streets within the city.

66 double arms and 414 single arms are currently installed along seven roads, including Nelson Mandela, Vincent Opiyo, and Onono roads. This is part of the pilot research study that is being conducted and is expected to last several months.

Andrew Olal Cohen, the Managing Director of Zeep Construction Limited, based in Gulu City, explained that the new solar street lights have batteries above the ground, spiked poles, automated sensors, and lithium-ion batteries, which preferably last a minimum of ten years as opposed to what was installed.

Pramit Brahmbhatt, the Chief Executive Officer of Sahaj Solar Limited, said during an interview from Gulu City that they have established that most of the solar street lights do not have the right combinations of the luminary, solar panel, and battery, hence affecting their charging capacities.

He adds that they believe that some of them require replacement with the right installation and matching parts.

Pramit explained that Sahaj, being a manufacturing company of solar panels and other equipment, controls the quality and selects the right components for the Solar street lights to last longer.

Robert Rubangakene, a resident of Kanyagoga in Gulu City, says that the newly installed solar street lights under the pilot project have performed better than the old ones and greatly enhanced security along the roads during the night hours.

Emmy Daniel Ojara is a journalist who is a victim of attacks along the dark roads. He is optimistic that installing the new solar streetlights will significantly enhance security at night.

Recently, the Gulu City Engineering Department announced that they are seeking up to one billion and nine hundred million shillings to repair the broken solar street lights, a figure they believe could go higher with time.

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