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How a 9-month power outage affects businesses in Maiduguri

For nearly a year, Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, has suffered a power outage following relentless attacks on transmission towers by insurgents.

The insurgents blew up the transmission pylons, which supported and delivered high-voltage power lines from Damaturu to Maiduguri, and the power supply was affected in the capital and a few neighboring towns, including Bama.

All local government areas in northern Borno have been off-grid for more than two years following the destruction of transmission systems by insurgents.

The attack, which plunged Maiduguri into darkness, took place in February this year. Shortly after this attack, another facility exploded and two electrical workers were injured. Subsequently, other towers were destroyed by explosives, including the most recent attack in September, in which a tower collapsed. All the attacks were reportedly carried out at night.

Energy Minister Abubakar Aliyu, represented by Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) Managing Director Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, Engineer, at a town hall organized by the Ministry of Information and Culture for Fighting the destruction of electricity and telecommunications infrastructure in Maiduguri on September 23, said that in the past nine months, TCN had lost 848 megawatts per day, for a total of 1.17 billion naira.

Revealing that an average 330KV tower costs 110 million Naira, he said eight 330KV single-circuit transmission lines worth 880 million Naira have been vandalized by insurgents from January 2021 to date.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the blackout has significantly affected business in the metropolis of Maiduguri, which is gradually recovering from insurgent attacks.

The situation is so bad that the company that supplies electricity to various organizations and homes for a fee would be at a loss because it has not generated income in eight months due to the power cut.

An official from the Yola Electricity Distribution Company, who will not want to be named, said the company spent money on salaries and other charges despite not generating income during the period. in question. He said the business continued to lose huge sums of money each month as a result of the outage.

He said, “The company is operating at a loss due to monthly damage to the transmission towers. For example, from our Kanem, Yerwa and Bulunkutu business units, we have generated nearly 300 million naira per month, but as we speak, we have not generated any income since February, when the attack took hold. is produced. The company has suspended operations intermittently in the past due to power outages caused by the tower collapse caused by insurgents. “

He said, however, that the TCN worked day in and day out to repair the towers and restore electricity, even as the insurgents continued to carry out new attacks relentlessly.

He said a separate initiative was being managed by the Rural Electricity Board to transit 33Kv lines from a Damaturu substation to Maiduguri as a temporary measure, pending repair of the transmission towers.

“The workers were given three weeks to complete the job, and I think all things being equal, they should be close to completing it. At least that will stabilize the power, ”he said.

A welder at Pompomari, Mohammed Nur, said the cost of doing business increased due to the power outage, forcing him to rely on a diesel generator to make and fuse the metals. He said his customers were complaining about the price increase.

“Customers say our price is too high, but that’s because we’re spending a lot of money on refueling generators. Before the recent blackout, which lasted almost eight months, I typically paid the power company 15,000 naira per month as electricity costs. But the supply was cut off by the insurgents and I have to continue as a welder to earn money. I bought a diesel generator for 300,000 N and spent at least 25,000 N on refueling, apart from other maintenance costs. This is in addition to the daily increase in the cost of working materials.

A state official said all public organizations rely on generators or solar systems to power their offices, and the situation has increased spending on fuel and maintenance. He said the money spent on generators in public buildings had doubled and “it was not included in the annual budget”.

Town resident Ibrahim Modu said he bought a 2.4 KVA solar kit for N 289,000 to power his three-bedroom house, which drained his savings considerably.

He said: “The dry and wet seasons are usually very hot and oppressive, so you need a home fan for the family. This power failure caused great distress in many homes. “

Borno GSM Market Association Vice President Abba Adam Shabab said: “We depend on electricity to do our business, including the sale, maintenance and repair of phones. Even before the power cut, we had an agreement with a private company, which supplies our stores with energy for a fee. With this arrangement using diesel generators, there is no need to worry, but the cost of doing business is definitely on the rise. “

Malam Tela, who takes care of the conservation of soft drinks in Maiduguri, said that without a steady supply of electricity he incurred huge expenses, adding that he spent more money on diesel generators. .

“I paid at least 10,000 N for electricity per month, but given the current situation I am spending 18,000 N for a generator per month,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) and General Electric (GE) have reportedly signed the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) for the 50 MW emergency power project. from Maiduguri. In the arrangement, a gas-fired power station will be installed in the city.

The move, according to Mele Kyari, chief executive of the NNPC group, will solve the problem facing the state capital.

He said: “We believe that it is very possible to establish a dedicated power plant in Maiduguri, which will meet current needs and potentially provide electricity to other cities and even neighboring countries.

“We see a very short deadline. Between three and four months, we should be able to set up a power plant that will serve Borno.

Meanwhile, Borno State Governor Professor Babagana Umara Zulum said at the town hall meeting the issues caused by the power outage would be resolved as soon as possible, and urged authorities to use modern technology to protect vital public facilities.

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