Residents of Ogijo, an industrial border town between Lagos and Ogun states, have had a rough 11 months. This, as one would have thought, is not due to the state of roads or gridlock or even flooding. It is rather about power supply.
The community of over one million residents, a figure obtained from the traditional ruler, has been without power supply for 11 months.
Expectedly, business as well as social activities have been brought a halt. Many residents, landlords and tenants alike, have fled to Ita Oluwo, a neighbouring community getting its supply from Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company.
Confirming this to Newsbreak, Daud Kemi, a frozen food dealer, along hospital road in the community, said lack of power supply has forced her to delve into selling of provision. Lamenting the situation, she described it as the worst period of her 43 years on earth.
“I make at least N360,000 on a daily basis. I used to travel to Cotonou to buy frozen chicken once in every two weeks.
“My mother-in-law owns this place I use as shop, else, where will I get money to pay for my rent?
“I’m just running this provision business to avoid having a stroke. There is nothing here. What I get here cannot even feed my family daily,” she said.
She revealed that after supplying power for a day, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, which supplies the community, sent them bills, threatening to disconnect them if they fail to pay. The matter had caused chaos between the youths and IBEDC.
Another frozen food dealer, who identified herself simply as Joke, said she regretted ever building her house in the community. She complained that she sold two out of her freezers to make ends meet.
Damilola Yusuf, a hairdresser, who plies her trade in the Eyita area of the community, said she was restricted to only ‘fixing’. She said it is impossible to do styles that require the use of electricity. She added that they had accepted their fate and moved on with life. It was noticed that ten other shops in the building were shut.
Olayinka Moniru, a fashion designer, described the situation as “pathetic”.
“I run my business on generator for at least six hours a day, and it has been like this since March this year. Before the situation became this bad, we were managing it before the end of last year, but there has been nothing since the beginning of this year.
“People relocate from this community on a daily basis. No one can tell when we will have electricity. And they kept bringing bill for us until we warned them. That was when the community wrote to them to disconnect us completely. I’m tired of this country,” he lamented.
Manager of Glory Poultry, Korede Sunkanmi, said they had disconnected from the public power supply before the community decided to do same.
“We disconnected from IBEDC long before the community did so. We work here from 8am to 5pm every day because of our feed mill. The light is almost non-existent, yet they give us bill as high as N300,000 every month,” he noted.
“When we started using diesel, we spend N240,000 on diesel monthly and we still make our profit. So it is okay by us like that. We get value for what we pay for.“
Agnes Semilore, a member of the Community Development Committee (CDC) of Ogijo, told our correspondent that the community does not need power supply from IBEDC any longer.
“Look they know what they are doing. When you knew that these people have been without power, then you gave them power towards the end of two months, then served them bill the following month, threatening to disconnect the light that was not there in the first place.
“We don’t need them anymore here. We will sort ourselves out. They have left the community already, so we will be fine. But we don’t need them here again,” she warned.
Newsbreak observed that the power company had also abandoned its office in the community. It was gathered that they had relocated to their Sagamu office, opposite the Olabisi Onabnajo University Teaching Hopital, after threats from residents of Ogijo.
Kazeem Gbadamosi, the Ologijo of Ogijo, traditional ruler of the community, who described the current power problem as “catastrophic”, disclosed that the community was already talking to other companies, which could supply power independently.
“However, while we are waiting for IBEDC, we are also exploring other available avenues to generate electricity within the community from other franchise holders.
“We are currently speaking to a company called Island Power Solution. They are currently doing their feasibility studies. We are praying they can do the job.
“We could have made a lot of progress, but the issue of licensing and franchising is making that task difficult. We’ve been working on it for 16 months now. But we are not giving up; we are still working on it. Even if IBEDC switches us on today, we will continue to pursue the other options, because there is no guarantee with IBEDC,” he said.
The monarch also berated companies operating in the community as being “irresponsive” towards the plight of the people, some of whom are their workers.
“If they had been part of this struggle, maybe we would have made better headway. But because most of them are not customers of IBEDC, they have decided that we should be on our own,” he said.
When Newsbreak visited African Foundries and Naya Steel, which operate in the area, they declined comment on the monarch’s accusation.
Officials of IBEDC refused to speak about the issue. However, one Engineer Sunny, the Technical Manager, said the CDC members from the community visited recently, and were happy about the progress of a project being undertaken by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which will ensure that they get regular power supply.
But he said he was not sure about when the project, which according to him is 60 per cent done, will be done.
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