By Michael Eboh & Grace Udofia
ABUJA — The hardship currently witnessed by Nigerians across the country took a turn for the worse in Abuja in the last couple of days as Abuja Electricity Distribution Company reduced power supply to the Federal Capital Territory and neighbouring states to an average of six hours a day.
Vanguard observed that over a month, the power situation in Abuja took a turn for the worse, with households having to grapple with exorbitant electricity bills despite the absence of electricity.
However, only a few high-brow areas and selected areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse 2, Gwarimpa, among others and some areas with lesser population, like Dutse-Sokale, Dutse-Alhaji; some selected streets in Arab Road and Fate Foundation in Kubwa, all in Bwari Area Council, can boast of a near stable supply of electricity.
Decline in power generation
In a chat with Vanguard on the epileptic power situation in Abuja, spokesperson for the AEDC, Mr. Oyebode Fadipe, blamed the drop in power supply on a decline in power generation and some challenges experienced in the area of transmission.
He stated that Nigerians should not expect a drastic improvement in power supply at the moment, as 24 months is still not enough time to do the radical change that people desire to see in the power sector.
Fadipe disclosed that AEDC had spent over N2 billion on the rehabilitation of legacy projects, while it is currently spending N1 billion on ongoing projects, adding that all these are to enable it bring the network to the point of significant improvement.
He said: “It is because of these investments that we are even talking about the electricity we have today, otherwise, 24 months ago it was really drastic. Shortly before the election in May it was a very bad situation; where even as a company we got only 18 megawatts.
“Then, how do you share such megawatts? We do not have licence to generate, we only have licence to distribute.”
Highly populated areas
He, however, blamed the low power supply in some areas on the fact that some of the areas are highly populated and are high consumers of electricity.
He said: “The second side of it is that there may be local problem and coincidentally you find out that areas such as Kubwa, Karu, Nyanya, Lugbe among others, are high density areas. Kubwa is the largest satellite town in Abuja, and then you have Karu, Nyanya and isolated cases like the case of Garki.
“The issue is not even about population, the basic issue is availability, it will either be at the point of available generation or there is equipment inadequacy.”
Despite the assurances, residents in Apo village told Vanguard that they have not had electricity for about two months due to a faulty transformer. One of the residents, Kokoma Gabriel, said that efforts to get AEDC to fix the transformer had been unsuccessful, as some staff and agents of the company have requested for financial motivation before the transformer would be fixed.
In Kubwa, residents staying near the village market claim they hardly get electricity for about four hours daily, while residents in Phases Two, Three and Four, PW and environs claim they only get electricity for about six hours, mainly at night.
In Lagos Street, some area of Gado Nasko, 2-1 Market and environ, ‘loss of phase’ has become a permanent feature as some lines goes off for the few hours power supply is restored. One of the residents, Mr. Chisom Umeh stated that several attempt to get officials of AEDC to fix the problem permanently had not been successful, as the problem always resurfaced, sometimes, one hour after it is rectified.
Also, Kubwa is littered with abandoned power projects as a World Bank assisted programme to supply small-size transformers to residents in the area appeared to have been abandoned for almost two years since the project commenced.
In the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, polls that were meant to bear the transformers were quickly installed by some contractors who told Vanguard that the programme was a World Bank project. About a year after, the poles are still standing while no transformer had been installed.
Residents in some areas in Nyanya, Karu , Jikwoyi, Mararaba, Kuje also lamented the epileptic power situation and ineffectiveness of AEDC, stating that they scarcely get electricity for an average of six hours daily.
Area 7 and Area 8 in Garki, in the Central Area was not left out, as many organisations around the area had to resort to the use of generating sets to power their business premises.
Also, some areas are condemned to rationing or load –shedding, as they see electricity on some days while on some other days they stay in darkness. Specifically, one resident in Lugbe, Mr. Samuel Abass, said power supply to their area is on a “One day on, one day off,” basis.
He called on the Federal Government to come to their aid and save them from the ineffectiveness and exploitative tendencies of the power companies.