Despite the huge injection of funds to reform the power sector, electricity supply to many parts of the country is still epileptic
| By Aanyo Ezugwu | Jun. 24, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
DESPITE the massive construction of new transmission and distribution infrastructures across the country, electricity supply has not shown serious signs of improvement in recent weeks. The current power situation has worsened with electricity consumers paying for services not rendered to them by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN. Investigations by Realnews have showed that the epileptic nature of electricity supply in the country seems to be getting worse, despite the huge resources so far committed into the power sector.
Kingsley Chukwu, a resident of Lagos, said that the power supply started dropping immediately Barth Nnaji resigned as the power minister. “When professor Barth Nnaji was in charge of the power ministry, truly there was noticeable improvement but since President Goodluck Jonathan found some excuse to remove him, power supply has deteriorated further and there is no improvement since then,” he said.
Also, an editor in Realnews, who lives at Algbado, Lagos, said the power situation in the area is unbearable. He said that since February this year, the area has not enjoyed power supply for two uninterrupted hours. “I think the way and manner they treat people in Algbado is very bad. Since February, the power supply in the area is unsteady. In February we had light for five times, in March, it was three times. April was the worst and last month, it was better because we had light for more than 10 times. Again, whenever there is rainfall, we will not have light for two to three days,” he said.
Goodie Ibru, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the worsening electricity supply situation in the country “is threatening to erode the little gains made in the industrial sector and is seriously affecting the development of the nation’s economy.” He said the many challenges facing industries, financial institutions as well as micro, small and medium-scale enterprises were attributable to the increasing instability in the power sector. He noted that instead of improving, the sector had suffered several setbacks, which had made Nigerians to suffer hardship and that the cost of petroleum products, which many households and businesses relied on to power their electricity generating sets, had worsened the energy crisis in the nation.
“The biggest burden on the Nigerian economy is the power sector. Our per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest in the world – about 12 kilowatts – as against that of South Africa, which is 478 kilowatts; Cameroon, 29 kilowatts; Gabon, 124 kilowatts; Ghana, 27 kilowatts; and Mauritius, 198 kilowatts. This, clearly, is the greatest obstacle to our economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation. The situation in the last couple of weeks was particularly unbearable both for firms and households, with power supply at its lowest in recent times. The high cost of diesel and petrol made the situation even more agonising. We hope the government will be able to accelerate the process of reforming the sector. The pace so far is not very encouraging,” he said.
Chinedu Nebo, minister of power, also acknowledged that the power supply in the country in the last few weeks had dropped. He attributed the drop in power supply to systemic failure and sabotage. “The power situation in the last three weeks is a nightmare. We have not had the kind of system failure like we have had in the last three weeks. For instance, Bayelsa State was knocked out for three weeks as a result of a breakdown in one of the transmission lines. It took about 12 days to restore power in the state using temporary measures. Another one happened in Kebbi. There is also man-made vandalism. Funding is part of the nightmare we are facing. It was thought that by 2012 the privatisation would have been completed, so there was no provision for maintenance in the budget. It has become very difficult for even routine maintenance to be carried out,” Nebo said.
He also said the recent loss of power in some parts of Bayelsa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara states and Niamey in Niger Republic was also as a result of rain storm leading to the collapse of three units of 330kV towers. “Since this comes against the backdrop of recent gains in power generation across the country, it has become necessary to shed more light on the development. It should be stated that the loss of power supply to Bayelsa State on May 17, 2013 was caused by the collapse of a terminal tower following a severe tropical rain storm. Similarly, the recent loss of power to some parts of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara States and Niamey in Niger Republic was also as a result of a rain storm leading to the collapse of three units of 330kV towers.”
Worried by increasing rate of systemic failures, the minister has recently constituted a 13-man committee to carry out a detailed investigation of the causes of such failures and advise the federal government accordingly on how to prevent future occurrences. The committee, headed by Fatai Olapade has two weeks to complete its assignment.