After the Federal Government huge spending on the power sector development with the hope of ending epileptic power situation in the country by December 2014, not much has been achieved. Our Correspondent in Uyo, DENNIS UDOMA in this says the 10,000 mw power generation assurances by the power minister, Prof. Chinedu Nebo may still not be feasible.
Less than a month to the time line the Federal Government assured that, power generation in the country would peak at 10,000 megawatts (mw) by the end of December 2014, it is observed that, Nigerians in many places still groan in darkness as a result of inadequate power generation.
This assurance was given by the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo when he appeared before the leadership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja on July, 2013 to brief them on the achievements of his ministry since he came on board as minister.
During the briefing, he also said that expected national power generation would move up to between 17 and 18 hours of power supply in the country but, however lamented that the ministry was faced with transmission challenges citing that, any attempt at putting 5,000 megawatts into the transmission network would result in an immediate system collapse because of poor infrastructure and dilapidated facilities.
According to him, “In 2014, we envisage 10,000 mega watts. God willing with our short term, long term and immediate strategies that we have in the ministry working assiduously with all the other stakeholders in the power sector, we envisage that with all the other NIPP work going on, and the Niger Delta Power Company coming on stream to be commissioned by December 2013, we look forward to 10, 000 megawatts come December 2014.
“This is what we are working towards. If we succeed in making it more than that, we are very happy people. But we are focused on actually delivering 10,000 megawatts by 2014.
“And by our calculations and data, we have on ground at least between 17 and 18 hours of power supply to Nigerians. The 24 hours power supply will happen, but we are working steadily towards that”.
Contrary to the expectations, what Nigerians stand to benefit presently is the continuous power outages or epileptic supplies in most cities in the country, thereby disrupting businesses and other economic growth.
The minister attributed these challenges bedeviling the sector to incessant system collapses adding that, the ministry had set up a committee to address the issue.
“We had 15 system collapses all put together and this was caused by act of God, not by act of man, because when the shrubs grew too high, they actually affect the transmission lines.
“So what we are doing about that is mechanized system of addressing the issues such that, the transmission lines are cut so that system collapse can be minimized because 75 percent or 72 percent of the cause for system collapse was the shrubs that were affecting transmission lines”.
Akwa Ibom is not left out in this problem and because of these challenges; there seem to be a general outcry by the electricity consumers who appealed to the Federal Government to make haste its promise of power availability by the year end as a means of accelerating economic activities in the country.
A self employed graduate, Mr. Chidi Kalu who runs a Unisex Saloon business in Uyo metropolis told Champion newspapers that, he could hardly make reasonable profit in his business since there was no constant electricity.
Kalu however explained that, he pays more in buying fuel to sustain the business and move ahead to settle salary bills of his workers.
“Had it been that, there is steady supply of electricity, I would have employed more workers and make more profits but, as it is, the profit I supposed to serve as my money is used in buying fuel for the generating sets and settle the Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) bills.
“So, for our businesses to grow, I call on the PHED to help us, by providing steady power supply at least, for 15 days in a month”, he stressed.
Though the state government has often said, it has covered more than 80 per cent rural electrification of the state through the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Projects, it is hope that, the Uguo Gas facility at Esit Eket Local Government commissioned three months ago by President GoodLuck Jonathan will certainly bring a relief to the people if the existing power infrastructure to help in power transmission across the state is over hauled.
Because during 2010 when not much was done to revamp the sector it was revealed that, the problems were hydra ranging from lack of gas, pipelines to help evacuate power for distribution and capacity limitations arising from over loaded transformers as well as lack of spare parts, even as the state was the first to have completed its Independent Power Plant (IPP) at Ikot Abasi.
The District Manager of Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution (PHED) in Uyo, Engr. Reginald was not available for comment at the time of filling this report but, it was gathered that, there was improvement in power generation into the system nation-wide though, it was alleged there were some teething problems in the area of distribution to feed power generating stations across the state.
Other reasons why there was power inadequacy in the state was dilapidated infrastructure and capacity limitations which compels PHED to embark on frequent load-shading which indirectly makes, power generation in Akwa Ibom generally poor, and may as well serve as a case study in other climes, even as the state government had said, it did so much to replenish the situation.
While Nigerians still believe that there is hope at the end of the tunnel, the Federal Government must also work hard to achieve the 10,000 megawatts (mw) power generation it promised the nation by ending of December 2014 in other to bring a reprieve to the people as well as stimulate economic growth.
Anything short of this, would amount to the Federal Government only paying lip services to the critical social welfare needs of her citizenry