Residents of Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital, are counting their losses after nearly a month without electricity. ONYEKACHI EZE reports
For nearly one month, residents of Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, were without electricity. Power supply to the area was disconnected following an unfortunate incident that led to the death of three persons.
The deceased persons – a woman, her son of about three years, and a maishai (tea shop) attendant, died when a high tension cables fell on the tea shop.
This happened a week before the Calabar incident where about 30 football fans lost their lives. Since then, residents of Nyanaya were without electricity until Friday, May 12.
But while the deceased Manchester United fans, who also died when high tension cable fell on the viewing centre while they were watching the club’s UEFA Europa League quarter final match against Anderlect FC on April 21, were mourned globally by members of football family, residents of Nyanya, despite losing their loved ones, lived in darkness.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) commiserated with the families of the deceased and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for the unfortunate demise of the football fans.
And as a mark of honour for the deceased, Manchester United players wore black arm band during their match against against Swansea.
There was allegation that the Nyanya electrocution would have been avoided if Power Holding of Company of Nigeria (PHCN) authorities had acted quickly and carried out repair work at the faulty cable.
Unconfirmed reports said field officials demanded N5, 000 from the owner of the house to effect repair, which was turned down because “it was the responsibility of government” to fund the repair.
The accident happened that same night. Another account said the PHCN manager in charge of Nyanya zone was given money to fix the problem but he failed to do so resulting in his suspension. Inside Abuja was unable to confirm his suspension. The dead had been buried according to Islamic rites, and maishai has resumed business.
The Federal Government had said that it is illegal to build under high tension wires. Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) at the 15th monthly Power Sector Operators meeting that held in Jos, Plateau State, on May 8, said Nigerians should avoid constructing buildings close to electricity lines to avert a repeat of the Calabar incident.
“We must admit as a people that the time to stop cutting corners and violating regulations has come upon us, and the time to change those non-compliant conduct is now, for our own long term benefit,” the minister had said. He added that, “the situation in Calabar, where a building was located under or close to an electricity line, exists in almost all cities in Nigeria and they are all accidents waiting to happen unless we prevent them.
“The burden of preventing them, rests with all of us – government and the governed.
“TCN, the Discos and NEMSA all have roles to play. Their success however will depend on the will, support and collaboration of state governments who have the responsibility for granting construction permits and removing illegal structures.”
Apparently in response to this, and to avoid future occurrence, PHCN officials had immediately started the replacement of the cables and relocation of poles in the affected area. Electricity supply was quickly restored to Nyanya area on April 28.
But after a downpour, two of the newly mounted electric poles gave way, pulling down some cables. Isaac, a beer parlour owner along Nyanya – Jikwoyi road, said it was to God’s glory that this happened when there was no power supply, and in the night, “otherwise it would have been another disaster.”
He said materials used were substandard and that was why the poles fell.
The poles fell at a road side market that attracts hordes of people up to late hours of the night. Another beer parlour owner, told Inside Abuja that the community resisted PHCN’s attempt to refix the cables, which he said were substandard materials.
“If you look at the poles that fell down, it is only wire they used to cast them.
They are supposed to use real concrete with rods. The community said they don’t want such materials,” he disclosed. PHCN officials thereafter returned to site, to effect the replacement of the old materials. This took another two weeks. Beer parlour owners, barbers and other artisans, who use electricity to carry their business in the area are counting their losses.
They said they are incurring extra costs to keep their customers. John, a provision shop owner, said he has since dusted the generator he has abandoned for years, to serve as alternative source of light.
“Government work is what it is,” he said, “if it is where big men live, sharp, sharp, they will fix the light.” A housewife, who did not want her name in print, said she has been incurring wastes since the light problem started. “Before I used to cook about two or three types of soup and store them in the fridge. But now it is no longer possible because there is no light,” she said.
Mama Abdul, another resident, said she has stopped her sachet water business because there is no light “and there is no gain if I continue to buy ice block.”
But while others were groaning because of lack of electricity supply, commercial phone chargers are smiling to the banks. Yahaya, a commercial phone charger told Inside Abuja that business has been good since the light problem began. Yahaya and others charge N30 per phone or rechargeable lantern.
Ahmed Shakarau, Head of Public Relations, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), when contacted, said he thought light had been restored to the area.
Though he noted that that “there is a regulatory requirement that says that an agency of government must give us approval before we restore the light,” he however, promised to reach the manager in charge of Nyanaya area. Shakarau spoke on Friday and light was restored in part of Nyanya that same night.