‘YOMI AYELESO who visited the Ita-nla, Kommand, Fiyinfolu and Aba’ya medi areas, all suburb communities located on Ilawe-Ekiti road in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital , reports the harrowing experiences of business owners, residents and dwellers over the lingering power outage in the last 12 months.
The frustration and disappointment in the face of 37-year-old artisan, Tope Adesanya while speaking with Sunday Tribune over the protracted power outage in the area summed up the difficulties being faced by people in the area as regards electricity supply in the last twelve months.
Adesanya who is into shoe making had expected that the business would flourish and progress in the area with constant electricity supply for his equipment to function optimally in meeting demands of the customers. However, this expectation has been dashed in the last twelve months as the entire area has been thrown into total darkness by the Benin Electricity Distribution Power (BEDC) over some issues.
According to him, the lingering power outage has affected his productivity and effectiveness as he could no longer make enough shoes to meet the increasing demands of the people due to the blackout. He noted he could not muster the necessary funds to power his generating set due to the rising cost of fuel in the country.
He said, “We have been without electricity supply since February 2022 which has caused a lot of damage to my shoe making business. You know I have machine that I use here but with the power outage, it has affected my output.
“It is difficult for me to use some of the machines that I have here because, the amount I am spending on fuel is biting and draining. Most times, I only do what my hand can do, which is not enough especially looking at what we do here.
“I have been missing out in terms of getting orders from customers which has resulted in the decline of my financial gains. If I did not take drastic measure possibly leave this area completely, I might be forced to close down business which will be suicidal to my family.”
…. cause of outage
Investigations by Sunday Tribune revealed that lack of enough transformers has been identified as one of the issues affecting electricity supply in the area. Being a densely populated area in Ado-Ekiti for residential building and business centers, one transformer could not withstand the load in the area.
Also, the damaged transformer serving the whole area has also made it difficult for the people in the area to enjoy electricity supply in the last one year, but checks in the area shown that the faulty transformer has been removed by the BEDC for repair. This might be a relief for the people living in the area.
While landlords and other stakeholders in the area have made spirited efforts in the last one year to address the challenges, the efforts have not yielded the desired results towards the restoration of power to the communities, due to what they described as lack of unwillingness on the part of the BEDC under the former management of the distribution company last year.
It was gathered that attempts by the landlords to contribute resources towards the provision of new transformer for the area were not successful as officials of the distribution company allegedly frustrated these efforts. But sources in BEDC argued that for the area to have new transformer installed and energized, it will depend on the performance of the existing one, in relation with the financial gains accruable to the company from payment of bills made by the consumers.
…. We are suffering economically – residents, business owners
On his part, a resident of the area, Biola Akintunde lamented that the lingering power outage had put the area at disadvantage in terms of economy development and security, adding that small and medium business owners are at receiving end of the continuous blackout.
Akintunde said, “We are really suffering in this place in the last one year that we have not witnessed electricity supply. You know the importance of power supply to a business owner and this is missing February 2022 over what the BEDC said was a result of faulty transformer.
“I am aware people here have done a lot to resolve it but nothing is forthcoming since then, and this has caused many small business owners problems to survive. It cost a lot to buy fuel to run our generating set in view of the economy. Hoodlums are now taking advantage of the situation to harass people at night and as well burgled shops and houses.
“Now that we were told the transformer has been taken away for repair by the new leadership of BEDC, we are hoping that they will bring it back as soon as possible for us to enjoy electricity again.”
Also speaking, a popular business owner in the area, Dauda Lawal explained that the lingering power outage has crippled economic activities with many business owners leaving the area in droves to places with regular electricity supply.
Lawal who is into hospitality business said, “The blackout has affected everybody particularly as business owners. It has affected us to the extent that many small scale businesses have been shut down in the area; many people have relocated from the area.
“Some of us that is just managing are affected because we are both spending our capital and profit to power the business by using it to buy diesel to power our generating set, it has not been so easy. It has affected the economic generally.
“For instance, if anybody is able to solve the problem of electricity in this country, honestly I will just say that person has been able to fix our problems 75 percent, in terms of job creation and rebuilding the economy. You can’t live a successful life without electricity, in your homes, businesses and others. You will imagine those in dry cleaning, barbing saloon and other businesses have relocated, nothing is working in terms of businesses. Even many tenants are walking out from the area and many people who rely solely on the rent, are suffering.”
When asked on what he thinks will be the permanent solution to the crisis, he advised the management of the BEDC to expand the supply to the areas with additional transformers and building a mini sub-station in the area.
“I am aware they are making some steps but they have to hasten up whatever they are doing. Let me tell you, that area is too big for a 500-KVA transformer. What they can do is to probably build a very small sub-station in that area that will have the capacity of about 1,500 transformer in that area; otherwise the problem will persist after six months of restoration,” Lawal said.
…. Landlord association expresses optimism on restoration of light
One of the leaders of the landlord association in the affected areas, Emmanuel Osanyinlokun told Sunday Tribune that the officials of the BEDC has promised to repair and return the transformer to the area within the next six weeks. He, however added that the landlord association has entered an agreement with the distribution company to pay 20 percent of the alleged N80 million being owed by residents in the affected area.
Osanyinlokun who revealed that the company has promised to energize the transformer for the areas to have electricity again after fulfilling own agreement, called on the residents and business owners to pay their outstanding electricity debt.
He said, “we have suffered a lot in the last one year but we are hoping that this issue will be addressed soon because the faulty transformer has been removed for repair by BEDC and they said it will be returned within six weeks.
“ Let me quickly tell you that we have an Eight-man committee of people in the affected areas and we have been meeting the BEDC leadership , recent one was last week where we had agreement with them on how to resolve the issue.
“They said the area is owing N80million of electricity bill and we agreed to the payment of twenty percent of the debt for them to energize the transformer when it is return. I am calling and appealing to our people to cooperate in paying what they are owing for us to have light again.”
… We are repairing faulty transformer, they will soon get light – BEDC
The Regional Head of the BEDC , Nonye Ofiebor told Sunday Tribune that the management of the distribution company has held series of meetings with stakeholders in the affected areas, promising that all issues would soon be resolved.
Ofiebor who attributed the protracted outage to the faulty transformer in the area, revealed that officials of the company had removed it for necessary maintenance and repair in a bid for the people to enjoy electricity again.
While sympathizing with residents and business owners for what they have experienced in the last one year due to the blackout, he called on them to fulfill their own part of the agreement by paying all outstanding bills to the company.
He said, “I can tell you that we are making progress as regards the outage in these areas you have mentioned and if you go to the place now, you will see we have taken the transformer which is faulty to repair.
“We are doing that already and I will like the people to pay the money they are owing BEDC, for the overall interest of all of us. We have been meeting the people from these places and we are confident light will soon be restored to the affected communities.”
…. Govt working for better electricity supply in Ekiti – Aluko
The Special Adviser to the Ekiti state governor on Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Professor Bolaji Aluko informed Sunday Tribune that the state government was aware of the situation in the area , revealing that the management of the distribution company had been engaged towards finding a lasting solution to the problems.
He added that the ministry, Ekiti State Electricity Board(EKSEB) and the BEDC are collaborating in a bid to improve power supply to the state especially in Ado-Ekiti, which is the state capital.
“That axis is just one of several axes being considered for relief. We are doing a comprehensive study of the electricity network in Ado-Ekiti in particular and Ekiti state in general for better electricity service delivery all around, “Aluko said.
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