Despite the rhetorics about improvement in power supply across the country, poor electricity supply is taking its toll on businesses especially small business whose owners are barely striving to stabilise, Abah Adah writes.
More than anything else, the issue of power supply is central to the effective functioning of an economy, especially an emerging economy like that of Nigeria. But it appears the task of addressing the challenges of power supply has remained a herculean task.
Survey by LEADERSHIP Sunday indicated that most businesses still spend a sizeable part of the running cost on maintaining generator with widespread concerns that more money is being paid for a non available ‘power supply’.
There is no gain restating the fact that power supply is central to boosting small scale business and ultimately strengthen the economic base of a nation like where a sizeable percentage of its economic is within the category aptly classified as small and micro.
In this era of recession, business owners are worried that poor power supply which has not been resolved by successive government has continued to add to their woes there by undermining their returns on investment.
Mr Sunday Alome runs a popular Guest Inn in Ado, a fast growing surburb of Nasasawa State, adjoining Mararaba which shares border with the FCT. He said he spends an average of N20, 000 on a daily basis fueling the generators that supplied electricity to the Guest inn and his home.
“Cost of maintaining the generators is not included in what I have told you. Because of the constant use of machines, you cannot but continue to spend money on routine maintenance”
“Inspite of all these I used to receive an outrageous bill of between N90, 000 and N120, 000 every month in this small place, because they said, based on a rationing arrangement, we are to have light for two days and stay in darkness for two days.”
“But in those two days we are to have the light, we don’t use to have it all through; sometimes, on the day they are to give us, you see them doing so in the late afternoon. Will you suspend your business for light that you are not sure of when it will come?” he said.
According to him, he has recently written to the electricity company to suspend his account in the mean time so that he will concentrate his spendings on generators.
He said in a bid to ensure stable supply of electricity to his business, he bought a transformer on his own which was mounted with the consent of the electricity office.
“I also acquired the one they called MD prepaid meter to enable me have reliable billing, but for them to come and fix and make it operational has been a whole lot of headache for me”
“I can show you the receipts and evidences of all these transactions I did, all to no avail. It is after I become tired that I decided to opt out of supply from the national grid in the main time,” he said.
While mr Alome seemed to have a fairly large pocket which enable him to handle the power supply needs of his thriving Guest Inn business, owners of smaller business like barbing and hair dressing saloon, grinding machines and a host of others may not be so lucky.
Oluchi Basil runs a hair dressing saloon in Ungwan Albarka area of Marraraba in Karu LG of Nasarawa state. She claimed poor power supply has forced her to literally close the business.
“The light in this area has been epileptic and because I cant afford a new generator yet as the one I was using got spoilt, I rarely go to the shop” she lamented.
At Model Care Hospital in Area 11, the manager who was to give accurate and reliable account was not available at the time our correspondent visited the area.
But a staff who spoke unofficially said the company spends as much as it pays for electricity because it is in operation 24 hours as a healthcare centre, adding that of recent the power supply in the area has improved significantly.
The manager of Dandi Business Centre in Utako said he pays to power his business in two phases aside the electricity bill.
“I pay N100, 000 to the managers of this business complex who are in charge of the big generator that serve the complex every month”
“And in addition to that I have my personal generator here, because at times the central generator breaks down and it use to take days, one week, two weeks depending on the gravity of the fault. At such times I use private generator because the business must go on,” he said.
Silas Usoro is metal worker who has his shop in the popular Jabi area of Abuja municipal. He has some apprentice and other employees who works under him. He told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he relied mainly on power supply from his generators insisting that by the nature of his business, the best he could do was to have constant power supply “and since this is almost impossible judging by what the Distribution company offers us, I resort to using my generator almost all the time”.
When our correspondent visited his business outlet, the sound of generator rent the air. Of course it provided the opportunity for Usoro to further butress his point as far as hardhip posed by poor power supply is concerned.
He said “You can see that my generator is on because we don’t have light now that you are here. By my calculation I spend nothing less than N120,000 in fuelling my two generators every month, the bigger one uses diesel while the other one uses the petrol. That is aside what I spend on maintenance in addition to paying my electricity bills”
“And how much do you think I can make out of here after all the expenses put together, “ he asked rhetorically.
Osoro was however quick and emphatic in appealing to the government to do everything possible in ensuring that Nigerians can boast of sustained improved power supply throughout the country.
According to him, many young and enterprising Nigerians with lucrative business ideas now bury the thought and shy away when they think of the unstable power situation in the country.
“It is not easy for a small scale entrepreneur to spend what we are spending and still remain encouraged to continue with the business,’ he said.
Speaking in a not so dissimilar manner, the Proprietor of a top ranking hotel in the Karu area of the FCT who pleaded anonymity because of his stake in the ministry of power said he spends an average of N150,000 to N180,000 monthly on fuelling and maintaining the Mikano generator that he uses to power the hotel in the absence of electricity.
Increasingly, Nigerians are urging relevant stakeholders to pool in resources and support government at all levels to provide stable power supply so as to end long and frustrating years of poor electricity supply and its attendant consequences on economic activities.
Understandably, this concerns has further heightened the calls for what many referred to as review of the nation’s Independent Power Project (IPP) policy as a means of boosting power supply and ultimately strengthening micro, small and medium businesses most of which are facing additional woes induced by poor power supply.