Daily Champion (Lagos)

27 June 2010

Nigeria: Ondo - Incessant Power Outage Blamed for Business Misfortune

Lagos — The Omotosho Power Plant Gas Turbine which is expected to add 335 mega watts to the national grid was one of the power stations established by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to improve power supply in the country.

The Nigeria Gas Company, which supplied natural gas to the station was expected to complete its operational base at the plant by last year February but 16 months after, work is still not completed.

The plant was constructed by the Chinese National Machinery and Equipment Corporation, and this reporter observed that the transmission lines needed to evacuate the power being generated from the plant had been constructed.

However, inspite of government huge resources on the project which is located in Ore, the people of Ondo State are still not enjoying regular supply of electricity. The condition has boosted the market for generator sellers who are making huge profit out of Federal government ineptitude.

Only few areas in Ondo State could be said to be enjoying comparative stable electricity supply. Out of the 18 local councils only 10 could boast of something near stable power supply.

In Akure, the state capital, it has become a norm for the staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to ration light between various communities which make-up the city. While areas such as Alagbaka, Oba- ile, Oke Ijebu, Ijapo, Ilesha Garage and Ahole are enjoying better electricity supply, reverse is the case in areas such as Ijoka, Ijo Mimo, Oshinle, Oke-Aro, Odopetu,Leo, to mention but a few.

The most hit by the irregular power supply are the people, who cannot do with using electricity for their day to day business activities.

Speaking on the development, an Akure based human rights activist, Mr. Morakinyo Ogele said the inability of the Federal Government to boost power generation is a sign that Nigeria is a failed state.

According to Ogele, successive governments in the country have failed to transform the power sector, specifically indicting the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. ' .

He said, "Nigerian leaders lack vision and that is why they have not been able to find solution to the perennial electricity problem.

"If Ghana can celebrate one year of uninterrupted power supply, it is a shame for Nigeria which is parading itself as a giant of Africa. It is a sign that Nigeria is in a terrible mess.

For those in the hospitality business, irregular power supply is a major obstacle towards breaking even.

Most of the hoteliers who rely on diesel to power their generating sets are lamenting that they are incurring huge debt. One of such hoteliers is Mr. A Odoro, who owns one of the four star hotels in the heart of Akure metropolis. Odoro, a former local council boss in the state complained bitterly on the money being expended on the hotel business on daily bases.

'It is not funny at all that the inadequate supply of electricity is having adverse effect on hospitality business. How can someone explain the huge amount being spent on procurement of diesel every month? At least, I spend up to N380, 000 on diesel to power our generating sets, on monthly basis.

"This has continued to have negative impact on our profit such that it becomes very difficult for us to break even, considering the fact that many more hotels are springing up in Akure every blessed day".

Aside from those in the hospitality business, the situation is also having negative effect on those running cyber cafes. Despite the fact that cyber café operators have increased their charges in Akure metropolis, most of them are still lamenting over what they incurred on powering their generating sets.

Chief Owolabi, who is the owner of Albafe Café located at Alagbaka area, said operating cyber café without regular electricity supply is affecting the growth of the business. This was buttressed by one of the attendants at the café, Bimbola Arowolo.

According to Arowolo, we find it extremely difficult to meet the monthly revenue target and this is largely because of the large amount of money we spend on diesel.

"Many a times we quarrel with our boss over meeting the target set for us. We normally spend about N60, 000 on diesel every month despite the fact that we collect N150 per hour from our customers".

Beer parlour operators are also counting their loses which they attribute to poor power supply. They complain that once their beers are not cold, most of their customers will prefer to go elsewhere.

Mrs. Abike Oguntase, who runs one of the popular joints in Akure said she spends much money to buy iced blocks to freeze the beers.

In her words, "It is not good running beer parlour without having constant supply of electricity. The amount of money we spend to procure iced blocks most times are counted as extra to boost our business.

On his part, Chief Olufemi Adekanmbi, who is a notable politician in Ondo State believes that government needs to privatise the power sector by encouraging both foreign and local companies to own independent power stations.

Aside from this, Adekanmbi, who is also a social crusader said it is high time state governments were encouraged to own power stations so as to complement that of the Federal Government's.

He argued that "The Federal Government alone cannot provide electricity for its citizenry, state governments should also look inward to have their independent power stations and so also for the foreign and local investors should also be permitted to have their own independent power stations.

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