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07.07.2024 Featured Some Streets in Lagos’ Ebute-Metta in Darkness for 6 Months Over Faulty Transformer

Published 7th Jul, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

Around 3 pm on Saturday, the national grid collapsed, making it the fourth time in 2024. This news made headlines, but the residents of Jones Street, Jebba Street and Odaliki Street in Ebute Metta were unfazed by it.

They have been in darkness since February due to a faulty transformer, so the news of a national grid collapse did not bother them.

When FIJ visited the community on Friday, the residents lamented the effects of a lack of electricity on their businesses, finances and children.

Israel Ogunmolu, a resident of Jebba Street, was standing in the company of some other residents at one end of the street when this reporter met him. He told FIJ that the transformer got damaged due to poor maintenance by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC).

“Before the transformer got damaged, there were three lines connected to it. Whenever one got spoiled, the EKEDC would not come to fix it, even when we informed them, and some people would resort to illegal connections. That became the norm until the transformer got damaged,” Ogunmolu told FIJ.

The faulty transformer
The faulty transformer

Since their transformer got damaged in February, the residents have been hosting meetings with some EKEDC staff members, visiting EKEDC offices in Ijora and Marina and organising protests, but all their efforts have been futile.

READ ALSO: In Oja-Odan, Poor Roads, Power Outages Make Life Difficult for Residents

FIJ learned from some residents that the EKEDC has failed to restore electricity to the community because of an alleged N19 million electricity debt.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, told FIJ that some EKEDC staff members had told them to offset their electricity debt before they could come to repair the faulty transformer.

“Some of us just moved into this community. I, for instance, have not lived here for up to two years. When I moved in, I met a debt of about N250,000 on the postpaid metre in my rented apartment. How do you expect me to offset a debt I didn’t incur? Some of us here use prepaid metres. Is it possible for people who use prepaid metres to owe electricity debts? We have even tried raising some money, but they have refused to fix it.

“They told us that they would have to disconnect the electricity of the residents who owe before they could repair the transformer. We agreed, and they came to disconnect their electricity. Yet, nothing has been done about it. If we had N19 million, we wouldn’t live here in Jebba Street or Jones Street,” a resident told FIJ.

The residents now spend more on petrol and water. Since there is no electricity to pump water from the borehole, residents must buy water. Some families spend N5,000 weekly to buy water for their homes.

To find a solution to the electricity situation, some residents volunteered to be a part of a committee that would spearhead the struggle. Tajudeen, another resident, volunteered.

“Some of us in the committee cannot walk on the streets because some residents could attack us. They are of the opinion that we are not doing anything about it,” Tajudeen told FIJ.

BUSINESSES AND CHILDREN ARE GREATLY AFFECTED

Research has shown over the years that poor power supply contributes to the crumbling of businesses. This is what small-scale business owners in the community are experiencing in real time.

FIJ spoke to some small-scale business owners in the community, and their responses were the same.

Ayo Vaughan, a cold drinks and snacks vendor, told FIJ that she spends N2,000 daily purchasing ice blocks to keep her drinks cold and run her business.

“I open my shop six days a week and spend no less than N2,000 on ice blocks each day. It has no profit, but I must do it to retain my customers. If they come to buy drinks and I don’t give them cold drinks, they will go to the other streets to patronise them,” said Vaughan.

“Some people have started moving out of their homes, likewise shop owners, over this electricity issue.”

A shop owner moved out because of the electricity situation.
A shop owner moved out because of the electricity situation.
Residents have started vacating their apartments.
Residents have started vacating their apartments.

Emem, a barber who has a shop on Jebba Street, told FIJ that he was no longer making profits because he was spending more on petrol to fuel his generator.

READ ALSO: No Hospital, No Electricity… Inside Ogun Communities Where Ballot Boxes Are Close but Infrastructure Is Far Away

“I can’t charge my customers more than the regular amount because of the poor electricity, and I spend more on fuel. It is hard to make profits these days,” Emem told FIJ.

Business owners are not the only ones feeling the brunt of the poor electricity.

In March, a three-month-old baby died on Odaliki Street from suffocation. FIJ learned from residents that it was due to the heat wave, and since there was no electricity, the baby’s parents could not put on the fan for ventilation.

Vaughan told FIJ that her children had had heat rashes on so many occasions and she had resorted to buying methylated powder to mitigate the effects of the heat on them.

“We have not had electricity in six months, when this is not a village. The Lagos Mainland Local Government office is just around the corner, yet we live this way,” she lamented.

The Lagos Mainland Local Government Office
The Lagos Mainland Local Government Office

FIJ called Tudome Osanweokwu, a zonal manager at the EKEDC office in Ebute-Metta, on Saturday, but he didn’t respond. This reporter also sent text messages, but he had not responded at press time.

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Published 7th Jul, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

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