Electricity is considered to be one of the drivers of a modern economy. However, TARKAA DAVID writes that the dream is far from being achieved in Nigeria, especially in Bwari area council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where the residents pay for black out.
Electricity is reckoned as the greatest driver of a country’s economy, modern industrialisation cannot be achieved without a stable power supply. Energy is increasingly becoming a major force in the pursuit of sustainable development. As a major source of energy, access to electricity aids the process of meeting residential and domestic needs.
It also contribute positively to capital and labour productivity, promoting export potentials of countries and creating employment, as well as reducing the level of poverty. Electricity ultimately improves socio-economic development of the country. Unavailability of electricity has been a major problem in Nigeria, as its widely acknowledged that most sub-Saharan Africa states is in the midst of power crisis outages are not just frequent and long but also erratic.
Available reports show that more than 50 per cent of Africa businesses surveyed cite inadequate power supply as a major infrastructural challenge that dampens development. The situation is more challenging in Nigeria, as many businesses have relocated to neighboring countries due to poor electricity infrastructure and rising cost of production. Also, power shortages are adjudged a major deterrent to SMEs development and culminating into rising unemployment and civil disturbances.
The causality running from electricity consumption towards economic growth infers that electricity influences economic growth and thus expansion of electricity services is compatible with improvement of economic performance of the country. The causality running from economic growth to electricity consumption implies that economic growth is not dependent on electricity usage and therefore conservation policies should be pursued.
Residents of Rockville community in Bwari area council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) having been living for over five years without electricity which is one of the basic needs of urban dwellers. The residents have accused the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) of extortion as the company has refused to electrify the community after five years of existence.
The general secretary Rockville Residents Association, Mr. Ekhaegbah Orbih said that the community had approached the area office of AEDC in 2014, but has not been connected. Orbih noted that the community, which has over 60 residential houses, has been in the dark, while the company officials make fortune out of their predicament, even though electricity is critical to any community.
The secretary further stated that the community had paid more than half a million naira to Bwari area office of the AEDC as part of the conditions to be connected to the electricity greed since 2015. He added that the community met some of these conditions, but later jettisoned it when they realised that the AEDC Bwari office was defrauding them of their hard earned money.
Explaining their predicament further, Orbih explained that AEDC head office after series of back and forth correspondence provided a 500KVA transformer in 2017. The outrageous estimated bill for the installation 200 KVA transformer in the community by Bwari AEDC stood at N950, 400.00.
Also, residents of Ushafa community in the area council have equally lamented the outrageous estimated billings by the management of AEDC, when they spoke with LEADERSHIP recently. Chairman of Ushafa Village Expansion Scheme, Mr. Michael Momoh said the AEDC outrageously estimate bills for consumers who have no meters. Michael alleged that the AEDC prefers consumers to be without metres so that they can make money out of their helplessly.
He also alleged that the AEDC provides metres only to customers who pay N35, 000, which is against the standard procedure for acquiring metres, noting that those who apply for the metres are denied and issued estimated billings, which is mostly high above what the customer has consumed. Momoh regretted that the officials, due to the outrageous estimated billings prefer to disconnect residents and collect reconnection fee.
A resident of Kuduru, in the same area council, Mr. Joel lamented that the community is often billed for power that they do not consume. Joel said that the community has written several times to the customers care section of the AEDC but no action. He further stated that the company has refused to issue metres to residents in attempt to shortchange them. “We have some challenges in Kuduru. We have the lowest supply of light, but the highest of billings. They gave us light last month on the 21-22 and charged us for 30 days. When we refused to be disconnected, they brought the military to enforce the disconnection,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the commissioner consumer affairs, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Moses Arigu, said it is the sole responsibility of the AEDC to provide transformers to their customers. Arigu also said that the metre is a very important component of the chain, adding that the commission has issued the metering of houses to some companies who would ensure that metres, as an asset, are provided to the consumers.
Speaking at an electricity town hall meeting in Bwari recently, the general manager AEDC FCT North, Isa Abdulrahman said the community has not been connected due to a new regulation by NERC that new customers should not be connected without metres. Abdulraham urged residents to apply for metres before they complete their buildings to ensure quick connection to the national grid. He also stated that the epileptic power supply is due to the response of the power system to weather, adding that the heat season affects the system negatively leading to low supply.
Abdulraham further disclosed that the company would no longer extend the 33KV line, but rather customers on 33KV will be transferred to the 11KV line. He explained that the 33KV line is supposed to be a sub transmission voltage, carrying power from the sub transmission stations to where it would be evenly distributed, just as he attributed the present disparity to wraths that existed in the system before it was privatised.
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