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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Owerri Residents Lament Power Outage, Vandalization

 



BY GRACE IGWEANYI

Residents of Owerri in Imo State are groaning over total power failure in the heart of the city that has crumbled economic activities in the State capital.

Business operators have also expressed dismay over the situation, just as residents have vowed to stop paying bills to Enugu Distribution Company (EEDC) for power consumed  until the power situation in the city improves.

Major streets and roads such as Douglas Road, Wethedral road, Mcc road, Christ Church road and other areas which serve as the hub of businesses in Owerri  have been without electricity for a long period.


“We hardly see power supply here. Sometimes supply only comes two to three hours and it goes off for the rest of the day. This problem has persisted for over a month now” said Mr. Obodo Egenti, a local printer.

 He continued “There is no remedy in sight. The power supply here has not been this bad. We hardly see electricity and this has seriously affected business.

“We run on generator. And we buy a  liter petrol at N145 naria when it is available. It is higher at the black market and we need power for at least 18 hours a day to run our operations” said Rufus Eke, an engineer who runs a computer cybercaf√©.

Residents of the city also lament that the searing heat in the city has reignited the need for power supply.

 Beer parlour operators are worst hit over this situation.

 “We have lost our customers because we cannot serve them cold drinks. It is bad for business” said Miss Favour Ezenwa, a beer parlour operator.

“The absence of power supply and the heat is worrisome and disturbing. There is no power supply to power our cooling systems such as fan and air conditioners” he said

The situation has even extended beyond Owerri metropolis as those who live in the outskirts such as Egbu, Uratta, Nekede and Irete communities complain over non power supply.
 
 Aside the issue of non power supply, there has been increase in vandalization of EEDC transformers.
Investigations by this newspaper showed that some of the equipments are vandalized by unknown persons.  

 At Christ Church/Tetlow Road, Owerri, a 500kva transformer supplying power supply to Umuodu Umuihugba community consisting of about 5,000 residents was vandalized.

Community leaders in the area said they were told that armoured cable of the transformer was removed, thus keeping the entire community in total darkness.

One of the leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity said “it is mysterious how the armoured cable of the transformer was stolen. It is strange because no sane person that has knows nothing about electricity and its dangers will dare steal equipment from a transformer.

“We call on EEDC to conduct an investigation on how these equipments are stolen. We are not accusing their field men of complicity, but we are convinced that there is nothing hidden under the sun” said the community leader

Also, the armoured cable of another transformer situated along School road/Tetlow was said to have been vandalized few weeks ago but was restored after residents of the area contributed money to EEDC officials for the purchase of new armoured cable for the transformer.

" We call on EEDC to look into the issue of vandalization. The frequent vandalization of equipments in the transformers is worrisome and disturbing.  We cannot be paying our bills and also pay for vandalized equipments. It is unacceptable" said Cliff Ojinika, a resident in the area.

No EEDC official was available for comments, but a top official told our reporter that they are working hard to restore the situation.

" We are not relenting . No EDDC official will take part in vandalizing its equipments. And we have told the public to please report any official that is involved in extorting money for any purpose aside payment of bills" the official said .




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Friday, 19 February 2016

Umuogii, Orji Community In Imo State: A Community In Perpetual Darkness. (SPECIAL REPORT)



BY GRACE IGWEANYI

For residents and inhabitants of Umuogii community, Uratta, Orji in Owerri North Local Government Area of  Imo State, a small village OF about 20,000 people, it has been total power outage for over four years.

According to the community leaders led by Chief Cosmas UgochukWU Achilike, the traditional Prime Minister, the community has not seen electricity supply for long.


  “The day power supply returns to Umuogii, our people will go to church for a thanksgiving” he said to INNONEWS.COM, to underscore the depth of frustration of his people who wonder why power supply has not been restored in the area for a long time

Umuogii community is gradually witnessing some level of urbanization as it is close to Owerri municipal, the Imo State capital. This had attracted both civil servants and businessmen who had lived in the area, but now shying away because of total absence of power supply.
 
 “We have been in perpetual darkness for four years. It is a pathetic situation. We have done all we could to get Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to provide us with power supply all to no avail” Achilike told this online newspaper

According to him, “there was a transformer which supplied light to the community. But that transformer was destroyed by a careless bus driver who rammed into it four years ago. The matter was reported to then Power Holdings Company of Nigeria (PHCN), we made our reports to them, and nothing came out of it.


“We have paid our fees, our youths have gone on rampage at EEDC office in Owerri and at Orji to protest the total darkness in the area, yet we have not see anything that looks like electricity in this community” the traditional Prime minister stated.

 This newspaper observed that during the elections in 2015, some politicians took advantage of electricity problem of the community to make so many promises to the people. One of such politicians is the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha who was said to have promised to provide a new transformer when he was seeking for re- election as governor.

After the polls, the governor was said to have drafted one Chris, an electrical engineer who only came and assesed the situation and left till date.


It took the intervention of the member representing Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ezenwa Onyewuchi, who provided a transformer and told the community to make arrangements for its installation.


“Of all the politicians who came here to make promises, it was Hon Onyewuchi who gave us a 300kva transformer.
  We commended him for that. We thereafter set up an electrical committee whose duty is ensure the installation of the transformer’ the traditional prime minister stated.

The committee made efforts to get the power company to install and energize the transformer by providing land and other logistics to ensure the process of installation is completed.


Another community leader, Chief Chidi Anukam added that the community have never had issues or disagreements with EEDC to warrant the lukewarm attitude of the power company officials.


“This is why we are surprised over their non- chalant attitude to install of our transformer. We have written several letters seeking for their approval to install this transformer yet there is no reply from the power company” he said


Mr. Innocent Mbata, another leader in the community and a wielder lamented that the absence of electricity for over four years in Umuogii community has affected economic activities in the area.

 He said “Wielders here have all deserted this place. Bakers have also left. Small shops which sell cold drinks and other items have left.

“Those who are still operating are gradually closing up because there is no ray of hope that power will be restored.
 Residents here spend so much on fuel daily to power their generators

“Tenants no longer seek to rent the houses we build. They complain of no electricity more so when it has lingered for over four years” he told this online newspaper.


The community leaders called on EEDC to come to their aid and install the 300kva transformer which is available.


When this newspaper called EEDC Public Relations officer in Owerri district for comments, there was no response as his phone was switched off. A visit to the power company office was fruitless as no one refused to speak on the matter



 

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