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Power outages cripple business operations in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa

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Power outages cripple business operations in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa

The Lack of steady power supply, further worsened by insurgency, has continued to affect businesses and other activities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

The Voice Media Trust (VMT NEWS) reports that the three states, known as BAY states, are the worst affected by the activities of insurgency in the North East where critical assets, including power transmission lines, had been destroyed.

In Borno, the transmission line from the National Grid supplying Maiduguri and its environs, had been destroyed, while the newly-constructed 50-megawatt station constructed by NNPC, has developed problems and is still undergoing repairs for the past two weeks.

Residents of the city now depend on generators, a development that has crippled many businesses including night life in the town that still has a 10pm curfew, while nobody is allowed in or out of the city by 8pm.

Musa Abubakar, who sells drinks and ice water, said things are not easy and one has to buy diesel at about N2,000 per litre to keep business going.

“With the current hot weather and fasting period, people are buying a sachet of ice block for N250 or N200, depending on the quantity,” Abubakar said.

In Yobe where almost a similar situation exists, some business owners expressed their frustration with the power situation.

Mr Ofem Iviang, the Group Managing Director of Cedars and Unicorn Hotel Services, Damaturu, said power outages have significantly increased the company’s operating costs.

“Now we depend on diesel to run our generator, as electricity supply has become epileptic.

“The cost of running the business has tripled; we are almost running at a loss because everything we generate goes into buying diesel,” he lamented.

Iviang urged the government to take swift action to address the issue.

He also called for measures to curb artificial price hikes of diesel by filling stations, which has further strained businesses like his.

Mr Yahaya Danlele, a tailor, highlighted the heavy reliance of modern tailoring on electricity and how many tailors are spending too much on fuel to be in business.

In Adamawa, residents and business owners in Yola, the state capital, also decried the drop in hours of power supply, leading to a disruption in social and economic activities in the state.

Malam Aliyu Musa, a Yola resident and business owner, said there has been a serious decline in the hours of power supply to his residential and business location.

“In my area, we get just about eight hours of light daily, as against over 15 to 18 hours of light, which was manageable last year.

“This has resulted in a high level of discomfort, especially with the peculiar nature of high and unbearable temperature in Yola.

“This has also increased the cost of buying fuel to power generators in our homes and offices for alternative power supply.

“Storage and preservation of perishable household goods have become almost impossible as they easily get bad,” Musa said”.

Also speaking, Mr Richard Fwa, Managing Director, Duragi Hotels, described the power supply as paralytic, saying it has affected ease of doing business and decline in profit.

Fwa, who manages a 35-bed hotel and school in Yola, said he spends one quarter of his total income annually on diesel with a daily purchase of fuel worth N400,000.

“The situation is really terrible. I buy one liter of diesel for between N1,500 and N1,750. We in the tourism industry are certainly not getting a return on our investments.

“Last year, I spent over N14 million on diesel alone, aside from the electricity bills I pay. Because of the inconsistent power supply, I even have to borrow money to keep my business running.

“The only time we get reasonable hours of power within three to four days, is when the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) is close to bringing their bills, which is unfortunate,” he lamented.

The MD further said the current general cost of living index compared to prices of goods and services was unacceptable, while appealing to government, electricity generators and distributors to urgently address the lingering challenges in the sector.

Efforts to get the reaction of YEDC officials to comment did not yield results.

An expert, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that several factors had  contributed to the current state of inadequate power supply in the state, resulting in the disruptions of both economic and social activities.

“It has also created a lot of inconveniences for residents and businesses,” he said.

One of the primary factors, he said, was the low supply of gas to generating companies (Gencos) which has led to a gradual decrease in available generation into the grid.

This, he said, had significantly reduced the power available on the transmission grid for onward supply to YEDC, and in turn, greatly hindered their ability to provide power to customers within their area of coverage.

Vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructures, he noted, had remained a major issue negatively impacting power supply as well as payment apathy from customers as major challenges to adequate power supply.

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