Delta communities cry out: We have lived without electricity for half a decade
ALPHONSUS AGBORH writes on the pains the people of Delta north senatorial district go through without electricity for five years.
There is no gainsaying any more that more than 20 communities in the northern senatorial district of Delta State have been thrown into total darkness for over five years.
Economic and domestic activities have virtually come to a halt as electricity supply from the national grid has zeroed to a worrisome level. This has made inhabitants of the area ask pertinent questions as to whether parts of the senatorial district are indeed in Nigeria.
The people of Ibusa, Ogwashi-uku, Ewulu clams etc in particular and others like Issele-uku, Onicha-Ugbo, Obior, Illah and many more have resigned to fate awaiting when it would please the Federal government to provide them power supply.
Worst hit among the communities are those along Asaba –Ibusa-Ubulu-uku-Oboir and the Enuani clams.
For Collins Afuwah, the Iyase of Ogwashi Uku, “the absence of electricity in the area for over four years has been disastrous.
“What is the offence of our people that we are denied of this basic amenity? We believe that the completion of the step-down will mean a new lease of life for our people, especially students of the polytechnic here. Some of them finished their National Diploma and Higher National Diploma programmes in Ogwashi-uku without seeing electricity light for a day.”
Asaba, the state capital, and its environs of Okpanam are faced with serious power outage which has compelled every household to own generating sets.
Asaba for now is the only state capital without a step-down of the 330KV lines. The power that comes from the Obosi step-down in Anambra State to Asaba through one feeder has been so for years before it became the capital of Delta State in 1991.
Even at that, an Indian company, General Steel Mill (GSM) was believed to have facilitated the stringing of the 330 KVA lines from Obosi to the factory along Ibusa road. The implication, based on an agreement with the National Electrical Power Authority (NEPA), was for the company to be independent with electricity supply. As the town expanded, the supply became inadequate even with the company taking the lion share and leaving many communities in total darkness.
Nevertheless, there is a power project going on in Ibusa to step down the 330KV lines which had meandered through stages. The Asaba power project, as it is called, was initially conceived by the Obansanjo administration in 2003.
The project was eventually abandoned. It is on record that all other similar projects across the country started along with the Asaba project were completed long ago while the affected communities waited.
Providence, however, paid off when President Goodluck Jonathan administration took it upon itself to complete the project.
All the electrical installation, computer rooms and civil works have been completed. In fact, the project, according to the project engineer of AKAAY ELECTRICK, builder of the sub-station, Engr. Odinakachukwu Amobi, has been completed since July.
“I assure you that the life of the people will change; more companies will relocate to this axis because of the improved power supply.
“We have tested the sub-station and it is perfectly working well. We stimulate the system on a daily basis using a generator. We are earnestly waiting for the power from the 330KV lines from Obosi and Benin to put it into use,” Amobi said.
Investigation revealed that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) had problems in settling a N3m compensation to a community in Delta State along the Onitsha line to the project site in Ibusa.
Investigation further revealed that electricity consumers would still wait for a while as the company is yet to erect four towers for the 330kv lines.
TCN is said to be sand-filling the swamp of the River Niger to enable construction workers move in their equipment in the construction of the towers. It is hoped that by the end of September, power will get to the step-down project from Obosi while the line from Benin will be brought down later.
The inconsistency of TCN and other stakeholders shrouded in official bureaucracy in executing the project has caused prominent citizens of the area to lose confidence on the power sector reforms which ordinarily has improved electricity supply in the nation.
According to the state Commissioner of Power and Energy, Hon. Charles Emetulu, who monitored the project since inception, “it is a good thing that at last we are getting our electricity through the national grid. There is an extent we can go to push the federal government, the owner of the project, but one thing is that electricity is coming to this area. Patience is needed and I think all the problems will soon be over.”