8 November 2012

Nigeria: Five-Day Blackout - Sokoto Businesses Count Huge Losses

Sokoto — It was sombre mood for most traders that their businesses directly rely on electricity as they counted their losses.

When Daily Trust visited such businesses, they were lifeless. They were not only devoid of the usual flow of customers but completely grounded. This is precisely the case when Daily trust was at the main frozen fish depot in Sokoto, owned by Sabo Malami.

Stench of rotten fish greeted anybody approaching the cold room. It was a ghost of itself. On a normal day, it was a beehive of activities but two days ago when our correspondent visited, nobody was there to buy fish; the smell alone would drive away would be buyers.

Speaking on the situation, Sales Manager of Malami fish, Mallam Sanusi Abdullahi, said during the first two days of the blackout over 40 cartons of assorted fish got rotten.

According to him, the business suffered over one million naira loss to the blackout.

He said this is even as they spent about N10,000 daily on diesel.

"PHCN should not have punished the entire state because of its problem with an individual. PHCN has committed an error," he said.

The situation was not different with those operating electric grinding machines.

There was no business activity going on when Daily Trust visited some grinding machine operators at their base at Kara market, in Sokoto two days ago.

Chairman, Grinding Machine Operators Association, Yakubu Bello, who said the association is made up of 2,678 members, lamented that their business had come to a standstill.

He said they lost an estimated N4-5million during the five-day blackout.

"Our business is grounded completely. No activity is going on now, all our members are just hanging around," Bello who looked visibly worried said.

According to him, 95% of Sokoto residents patronize his members, and called on PHCN to restore electricity to the state for them to feed their families, just as he pleaded with the government to avoid situations that are capable of throwing the people into hardship.

Investigation by Daily Trust also showed that the effect of the power outage had built a chain. The grain sellers association which business is linked with the grinding machine operators is also counting their losses.

Chairman of the association, Abdullahi Maigwandu, said before the crisis, he used to sell 20-30 sacks a day but that during the blackout, he could hardly sell one sack a day.

"Our members have secured over N2 million loss since the power crisis began," he said.

Cyber cafe operators also had sordid stories to tell. Those who spoke to our correspondent said they spent three to four times what they used to in fuelling their generators in order to keep in business going.

Many business operators in various sectors adversely affected by the problem lamented that their respective businesses remained their only source of livelihood and called on the warring parties to put the plight of the common man into consideration. With the return of light on Tuesday, many of the businesses resumed full operations even as the owners count their losses.

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