The lingering fuel scarcity, which has not only been crippling the country’s economy at all levels but has also thrown the populace into undue hardship, is also being aggravated by a widespread power outage.
Daily Trust takes a look at the crises, which are both occurring in the energy sector, as residents tell tales of hardship and dehumanising conditions.
- FG threatens to prosecute Nigerians bribing immigration officers for passports
- Amidst fuel scarcity, Nigerians decry widespread power outage
As the fuel scarcity, which was occasioned by imported adulterated fuel into the country continues to rage, Nigerians are also worried over the prolonged and widespread power outage across the various franchise areas of the 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos).
Although some of the DisCos’ spokesmen attributed the poor power supply in their franchise areas to low power generation on the national grid, analysis shows that generation is not completely different from what the grid had been producing in the past one month and previously.
Data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) run system operator show that the peak generation had hovered around 4,200 megawatts (MW) and 4,600MW this week, with the average generation at 4,000MW, but dipped to below 3,900MW three days this week.
Epileptic power cripples business across the country
Epileptic power supply is also biting hard in the FCT. A tailor operating at the Central Area, Abuja, Muhammad Umar, lamented the recent power outages being experienced in the capital territory, saying that supply is not regular; complaining that whenever it seems there is sufficient power supply, they come with crazy bills. He now turns to using a power generating set.
At Abacha Road, a suburb of Nasarawa State bordering Abuja, Mr Mathew Jones, a commercial cold-room operator, was worried about double trouble as he called it.
“This is not a joke; we don’t have power to run the cold store, and petrol is not available. I have to resort to getting black market petrol at N500 per litre to run my business these three days that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) failed to even blink the light,” Jones lamented.
A computer business centre operator said, “The current poor power supply has crippled many micro and small businesses, including mine.
“The incessant power outage causes lots of damage in terms of production and processing of my business, and it affected several others from small, micro and medium enterprises, thereby affecting our income in recent times.
“For instance, I own a business centre and I need constant power supply; the extra cost of buying fuel as a result of power outage has a direct effect on my income.
“The menace of power outage is disastrous to small business owners that are willing to be self-reliant, as well as employers of labour who assist a lot in reducing the number of idle youths in the streets,’’ he said.
Lagos state isn’t experiencing anything different as the epileptic power supply in most states of the federation has worsened the challenge with the fuel scarcity. Most Nigerians who depend on fuel to power their generating sets for business are stranded as they find it difficult to buy the product.
In Kano state the epileptic power supply is another crisis being faced by the people in the state.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that power supply had dropped in almost every part of the state. A number of residents who spoke to our correspondent lamented that the situation occurred at a time that people needed electricity more because of the current hot weather.
Areas like Nasarawa GRA, Tudun Yola, Kabuga, State Road and other notable places within the state have witnessed a major drop in power supply by over 70 per cent. The scarcity has affected many businesses, especially those that rely on electricity.
“The power outage is abnormal. I had to bring my charger to the office today so that I could go back home with my phone fully charged. The supply has dropped significantly. We usually had light for seven hours but hardly get it for two hours now,” a resident, Rabiu Sani Yakasai said.
Aminu Idris, a resident of Kurna in Ungogo Local Government Area, said the people in the area scarcely got light for more than two hours in a day.
The Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) told Daily Trust Saturday that the states under the care of the company: Kano, Katsina and Jigawa now witness a drop in electricity supply, but added that it was not the company’s fault.
The head of corporate communications, Ibrahim Sani Shawai, said that for the past one week, they had been experiencing a drop in supply from the generating company, but they had not yet been briefed on the cause.
Drop in power supply is also another crisis being face by residents of Kaduna state.
Residents who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday said unstable power supply in the last few weeks, coupled with fuel scarcity, had further worsened the living conditions of average citizens.
Some residents told our correspondent that in places in Kaduna metropolis where power supply was at its peak of 20 to 23 hours per day, the supply had dropped to less than 15 hours daily.
Fatima Saleh, who lives around the Rigasa community, said it had been difficult coping with erratic power supply during the heat period. “It is equally unfortunate that we cannot rely on generators because of fuel scarcity. It is all frustrating, happening at this time when the weather is getting warmer,” she said.
The management of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, which distributes power to Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, said the situation was due to frequency of instability in the national grid, occasioned by low power generation.
The head, Department of corporate Communications, AbdulAzeez Abdullahi, noted in a statement that the TCN, the manager of the national grid, was often forced to cut off power supply to DisCos whenever the situation warranted to avert collapse of the entire grid.
Gombe residents are also crying blue murder over epileptic power supply by the Jos Electricity Distribution (JED), which also distributes electricity to Benue, Plateau, Bauchi after the privatisation of the power sector in 2014.
Some residents of the state who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said the company had been providing epileptic power supply through a load schedule, whereby residents get electricity on shift basis despite the exorbitant estimated bills they issue to residents monthly.
Our correspondent learnt that in some parts of the metropolis, especially the areas on estimated billings, residents get power for only four to eight hours daily.
In the event of faulty transformers, residents do spend months in total black out until they raise money to repair the transformer.
In the case of Maiduguri, residents of the state have had to battle with lack of power for over 11 months.
Some residents of the state have been thrown into darkness for 11 months due to destruction of facilities and major power lines in the capital city by Boko Haram insurgents.
Investigation indicates that the DisCo in charge of electricity in Maiduguri is still working to restore power in some parts of the city.
In Edo, residents expressed worries over epileptic power supply from the Benin Electricity Distribution Company in the state. They said they hardly had electricity for up to six hours a day.
A resident, Jimoh Abu said: “Whenever they want to bring bills, they would give us light for three hours consecutively for two days, and thereafter, there would be total blackout.”
Another resident, Odiose Igbinovia, said they relied on generators for electricity.
In Ogun State, many areas have been experiencing complete power outages, while others have witnessed a drop in the power supply, a development that has affected socio-economic activities.
The executive director, research and advocacy of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, a lawyer, blamed the development on lack of adequate supply of the needed electricity to the state.
In Owerri, the Imo State capital, residents say electricity supply had become a luxury as they experience weeks and months of blackout.
Some residents of Nekede told our correspondent that fuel dealers, generator dealers and repairers were smiling to the bank as a result of the situation in the area.
However, an official of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) told our correspondent in confidence that they could only distribute what was allotted.
Many residents in Cross Rivers also lamented incessant power outages.
In Calabar, Madam Jennifer Akpan, a seamstress said, “Last month, I paid N13,000 for electricity in my small shop on Mbukpa Road, yet, I hardly enjoyed full power supply for three days.”
Youths of communities in Oyigbo Local Government Area in Port Harcourt barricaded the district office of the PHED over poor power outage.
The youths had in December last year barricaded the office with a coffin and stopped the staff of the company from accessing the premises due to the power crisis in the state.
It’s a different ball game in Ebonyi state as electricity supply in the State has improved in recent times. Our correspondent, however, gathered that supply and installation of prepaid metre is still in a slow pace in the state.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that more than 75 per cent of residents are yet to be provided with prepaid meters.
This development, however, has forced some residents who cannot afford to pay the high billing to stay without electricity supply.
DisCos blame low power generation
Some of the DisCo operators admitted the unusual outages AEDC, Mr Donald Etim, on Friday said, “In recent weeks, the level of power generated and served to the national grid for onward delivery to customers has been abysmally low. However, we do our utmost, at all times, to ensure that we equitably distribute that modest supply in such a way that a fair cross section of customers are served.”
Power consumer groups flay DisCos, seek compensation
In the meantime, power consumer groups have flayed the DisCos, while pressuring the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) to ensure that Nigerian electricity consumers are treated fairly amidst the rising electricity tariff and a contrasting power outage.
Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, the executive director, PowerUp, Adetayo Adegbemle, said the current tariff regime called Service Based Tariff (SBT) is a contractual agreement between the 11 DisCos and their customers.
The president, Nigerian Consumer Protection Network (NCPN), Kunle Olubiyo, said his group had written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the perennial power outage despite finding out that electricity tariff rose by about N3 in February.
We’re resolving gas, low water issues to boost generation – Minister
The Minister of Power, Abubakar D. Aliyu, an engineer, at a State House briefing on Thursday said the recent increase in load shedding in Abuja and other areas in the country were due to generation issues.
He said, “With the reduction in hydro capacity during the dry season, additional load needs to be taken up by our gas plants. We are having maintenance work in the eastern axis around Odukpani, leading to reduced power supply from the usually reliable NDPHC Calabar power plant; and we are having challenges at the Okoloma gas station linked to the Afam VI power plant.
Low generation cause of outage – AEDC
The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company has attributed the poor power supply in its franchise areas to low power generation on the national grid.
In a statement on Friday, the company told its customers in Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa State and Abuja that, “The current low and unstable supply of electricity to homes and businesses is as a result of low power generated to the national grid.”
The AEDC, which also cited the minister of power at a State House briefing on Thursday, said the recent increase in load shedding in Abuja and other areas in the country was due to generation issues.
“With the reduction in hydro capacity during the dry season, additional load needs to be taken up by our gas plants,” Aliyu said.
Fuel scarcity worsens situation
Most filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are still clogged with vehicles and long queues as black marketers who ‘litre’ different parts of the territory display jerry-cans of fuel in different corners and along major roads, holding motorists to ransom to buy 10 litres at nothing less than N4,000.
Auwal Rabiu Abdullahi, a private vehicle owner said: “The government that is saddled with the responsibility of providing succour to its citizens is now causing artificial penury,” he said.
Residents and motorists groan and lament in Lagos as the fuel scarcity bites harder in different parts of the state.
Adediwura Aderibigbe, a marketing and corporate communications professional based in Ajah said, “How can somebody be in traffic en route to work for over five hours, and yet, has barely moved a kilometre from the take-off point. I am tired, frustrated and angry, feeling cheated.”
Owing to the gridlock caused by motorists queuing for fuel, the state government has ordered traffic regulatory agencies to ensure a free movement of vehicles and apprehend anyone that disrupts traffic around petrol stations.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, in a statement, warned that any vehicle left on the road would be towed away.
Findings by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that many residents now resort to sourcing fuel from black marketers at exorbitant rates.
Kano State is also witnessing the fuel scarcity crisis, which continues to cripple business activities and makes life difficult for people.
Daily Trust observed that some fuel stations in the state have increased the pump price of petrol from the official N165 to over N200. The situation has heightened increase in transportation fares by nearly 50 per cent within and outside the state metropolis. It has also led to a surge of black market sales in the state.
Some residents who spoke to our reporter said transport fares had risen by about 30 to 50 per cent. They added that commuters get stranded due to scarcity of vehicles to convey them to their destinations; and they resort to trekking.
“I came out around 9:30 am, but I didn’t get a tricycle until after 10:30 am. When I wanted to board it, the operator said the fare was N150 from my place, Bachirawa, to France Road, against the normal price of N100,” a commuter, Shuaibu Muhammad said.
0n why some stations refuse to sell even when they have the product, a fuel station manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “This is not our fault. You should ask the government. We are just receiving commands from our bosses to determine the price, and even whether to sell the fuel or not.”
The story of the current fuel scarcity is the same in Kaduna. Consequently, many car owners in the state have parked their cars and resorted to public transport because they can no longer endure long queues at fuel stations.
Our correspondent gathered that the number of people who trek to and from different destinations on a daily basis has increased since the fuel scarcity started biting harder few weeks ago, while others pay outrageous transport fares.
The scarcity has also forced an increase in prices of goods and services and attendant hardship in many families, where people had been living from hand to mouth.
Following the fuel scarcity that has been lingering in the state for about two weeks, motorists spend nights on queues at various fuel stations. This has also led to hike in fares and scarcity of vehicles, so much that people now trek to and from destinations.
Our correspondent gathered that a Keke NAPEP trip that usually cost N200 now goes for over N500.
A commercial public transporter, Musa Sani said, “I have to work daily to earn money and cater for my family, therefore, you can imagine the difficulties we are facing with this fuel scarcity.”
Ibrahim Idris, a Keke NAPEP operator said: “I cannot spend a whole day on queue because that will affect my income as I have to pay the owner weekly and also save money to attend to my family needs. I, therefore, buy from the black market at N400 per litre. That means we have to charge the passengers higher to argument the increase.”
Although Taraba State is also experiencing fuel scarcity, there is no much long queue in Jalingo the state capital.
Findings by our correspondent showed that many fuel stations do sell fuel but allegedly diverting the product to black marketers who sell five litres at N1,200.
A black marketer, Nuhu Sule, told our correspondent that they bought a litre of fuel at N200 and add N20 per litre.
The fuel scarcity in Maiduguri metropolis has created conflicts between owners of commercial tricycles and their drivers, especially those who have been paying daily remittances to the owners.
The scarcity, which triggered fuel price from N165 to N400 per litre has unsettled many residents as prices of goods and services have increased. The situation has also sparked an increase in transport by 70 per cent within the metropolis.
Low-income earners now trek to their places of work, markets and other places.