After being subjected to total blackout for 10 years, residents of Magboro, Mowe and environs heaved a sigh of relief last December as the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) connected the communities to the power grid. This elicited celebration among the residents who had had to rely on generators for electricity supply. But the celebration has been cut short as electricity supply to the areas collapsed shortly after.
Not unexpectedly, this has caused not a small stir among the residents, especially given the fact that they had to wait for 10 years to get the short reprieve. Their worry now is that they may have to wait for another decade to get the problem resolved. A resident of Mowe, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune, Pastor Bayo Adesanmi, presented the disheartening experience of the residents.
According to Adesanmi, who is one of the community leaders, “My family moved to Mowe about 10 years ago. Since that time, we never enjoyed electricity supply from the grid until last December when the IBEDC said it had solved the problem. But as it turned out, it was just a placebo treatment that the company gave us because we barely enjoyed electricity supply for four months before the supply collapsed again. It is disheartening to see other communities enjoy electricity and we are cut off. We have complained to the Ministry of Power, we have complained to IBEDC, we have complained to the government, we have even contributed money, all to no avail. It is very depressing and if not for the grace of God, it may make one to lose faith in this country.”
Adesanmi added that while he agreed that there could be problem with any system at any point in time, he wondered why a problem would beat a whole country for 10 years.
He continued, “Even during the time of the PHCN, they kept telling us the problem but they were not able to provide any solution. Why is that so? Are we trying to reinvent electricity? With the coming of the IBEDC, nothing has changed; they keep giving us one excuse after the other. We are not interested in any reason they may come up for us not having electricity; all we are interested in is getting us out of this problem.”
In her reaction to the residents’ complaints, Mrs Angela Olanrewaju, Head of Corporate Communications, IBEDC, gave an account of the steps taken by her company to redress the situation.
She said, “To start with, this is a very unfortunate situation. The people have a right to be angry because what they want is electricity supply and that has not happened. We apologise for that. But having said that, I will like to state that this problem predates the coming of IBEDC. It is an inherited problem from the now defunct PHCN and records have it that Magboro never had supply even in the PHCN era. But we are undaunted. We know we have a responsibility to supply electricity to these areas and we are determined to do this. It was this determination that resulted in electricity supply to the area last December. We shall not relent until we find a permanent solution to the problem.”
According to her, Ibafo, Mowe, Magboro and environs originally received supply from the 132/33KV Ojere transmission station located in Abeokuta but rapid development in the area, which resulted in population explosion, overburdened the transmission and distribution infrastructure. “This caused the overloading of source of supply to Mowe/Ibafo/Magboro and the regular allocated power on the feeder became inadequate, hence the need to source for additional source of supply to the axis.”
Mrs Olanrewaju added that as a way of solving the problem, IBEDC, noting that the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) had just constructed a 330/132/33KV Substation at Oke-Aro and was planning to take another 33KV feeder from Oke-Aro to Mowe/Ibafo/Magboro, decided to collaborate with NIPP to solve the Magboro problem.
She continued, “The tendency was for IBEDC to wait for the completion of these projects since both the Injection Substation and its associate 33KV line will be handed-over by NIPP to IBEDC. Though, the line project suffered lots of hitches simply because of the swampy terrain between Oke-Aro and Magboro, yet IBEDC collaborated with the concerned NIPP contractors to achieve a timely completion.
“In September 2015, the NIPP contractor claimed to have completed the project, but the project could not be certified as some anomalies, defects and errors discovered by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) were pointed out to the contractor for correction. There were lots of forth and back actions on the part of the contractors. Yet the works were not certified by NEMSA,” she said.
The IBEDC spokesperson said her company sought other alternatives of supplying electricity to Mowe/Ibafo/Magboro axis when it became obvious that Oke-Aro line was having challenges.
“At this point, the construction of a New Abeokuta 132/33KV substation also by NIPP was nearing completion. Without further delay, IBEDC set for itself a target period of six weeks to construct a new 33KV line from this new substation from Abeokuta believing that NIPP’s contractor would also deliver the project and hand it over to transmission almost at the same time. IBEDC was able to deliver the new line project from the new Abeokuta Substation within the time frame. Unfortunately the Substation was yet to be commissioned. IBEDC did not stop there, we collaborated with the NIPP contractor and we gave necessary supports. Even when there was an equipment malfunctioning at the new station, IBEDC improvised in order to ensure a timely completion and commissioning of the station. As at today neither is the station commissioned nor has TCN taken over.”
She, however, said that her company was resolute about putting an end to blackout in those communities despite the challenges.
“We feel their pains and we want to assure them that this problem will soon become history,” Mrs Olanrewaju said.
Also responding to the challenge of electricity supply in the area, Mr. Lawal Yakubu, General Manager, Communication and Public Relations, Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHCL), the company saddled with the responsibility of managing the nation’s NIPPs, said in a statement that the 330/132/33KV Substation at Oke-Aro had been completed and inspected by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency.
He, however, noted that after being inspected by NEMSA, a fault was discovered along one of the lines, which resulted in the delay of its energisation.
He added that “It is expected that the process of re-energising the line should be achieved soon and the distribution company responsible for this network is expected to supply electricity to its customers in the affected areas.”
However, in spite of the explanations and assurances given by both the IBEDC and NDPHCL, the residents of the affected communities are unmoved. They claim that the bodies in charge will not be deemed to have done anything until electricity is fully restored to those areas.