Residents groan as blackout hits major Abuja suburb

Power Lines [Photo: energymixreport.com]
Power Lines used to illustrate the story [Photo: energymixreport.com]

A massive power outage has thrown residents of major Abuja suburb of Lugbe into darkness, shutting streets lights, destroying perishables and paralysing businesses.

Residents of the area lament they have not seen a flash of electric light since power supply was interrupted last week Thursday.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said a faulty 11KV feeder responsible for the blackout had been identified. But it kept mum on when power would be restored or the level of progress in repair works.

“Our esteemed customers in the following areas: Sabon Lugbe, VON, Jabi Airport Road, Trademoore Estate and in Piyakasa are hereby informed that the disruption of power supply to their areas is due to a technical fault affecting the feeder serving the affected areas,” the company tweeted on Wednesday.

“We assure them that efforts are being made by our engineers to clear the identified fault and restore power supply soon as possible,” it added.

The announcement was in response to several complaints and anger directed at the company’s Twitter handle by some of the hundreds of thousands residents in the suburb.

The failure also affected customers inside the Federal Housing Estate, Pent House Estate, Redeemer’s Estate and some makeshift settlements clustered along the Airport Road.

Activities were also grounded at the National Biotechnology Development Agency and National Space Development and Research Agency, which have their headquarters in the area.

Some of the small business owners who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES Friday morning said their ventures may not recover from the latest outage for several weeks.

“It’s been a very tough week for me and my family,”  said Jeremiah Johnson, who runs Soluak Unisex Salon in El-Salem Estate. 

“I have been turning customers away because there has been no light and it’s too expensive to run my power generator.”

Mr. Johnson, 34, said it would be difficult for anyone to convince him that he had been receiving value for what he pays monthly for electricity.

“I don’t know if I should call it cheating or something,” he said.

Elizabeth Agbo, a fast-food joint operator who said her business was particularly hardest hit, pulled no punches while conveying her exasperation about the situation.

“We do smoothie here, so we have to constantly refrigerate our farm produce,” Ms. Agbo said. “But since there has been no power, we can’t do anything.”

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Mrs. Agbo said meats and other dairy products in her shop decomposed over the past week, making it difficult for her to restock.

“Their incompetence and desperation to put profit above customers’ satisfaction have resulted in a major loss for my business,” she said. 

Saliu James, an aluminium artisan, said the disruption has left him frustrated because his customers failed to show any degree of understanding.

“The work I told them will be delivered within two days has now taken more than two weeks,” Mr. James,39, said. “I wish there’s a way to make my customers understand what I am going through.”

Other residents and businesses said they found it difficult to understand why the power outage could linger for so long, especially as the federal government had managed to contain vandals.

Residents in other parts of the capital, including Maitama and Asokoro, also expressed concerns about poor electricity in recent weeks, but an AEDC official told PREMIUM TIMES none of the outages was up to one week.

Last month, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Tunde Fashola, slammed power distribution companies for failing to meet up with their obligations to Nigerian and threatened severe sanctions unless noticeable improvements are recorded.

He admonished them to stop heaping blames in power failures on the government.

Power distribution was privatised and broken up into different zones across the country by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The administration argued at the time that privatising power distribution would engender improved functionality and efficient management of power asset.

But Nigerians continue to express great disappointment in service delivery, even as energy prices soar. 

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