Generators are fast becoming a necessity in most Nigerian homes due to the increasing unreliability of power supply, making most Nigerian consumers rely on generators and inverters to power their homes or businesses. Power is an essential part of human existence; it drives the economy, gives life to small scale businesses and generally makes life a lot more easier and enjoyable. Getting regular supply of electricity has long been a comfort successive Nigerian governments have failed to deliver.
This has really paralysed small scale businesses and has forced many flourishing industries to either fold up or about to. However, the few ones that are able to stay afloat have no choice but to pass unto the consumers the additional cost of production due to cost of fuel.
Also, the acute power problem in most parts of the country has ensured that almost every household own a generator. Consequently, families spend a substantial part of their earnings on fuelling and servicing the generators. Their plight was compounded early last year when a litre of petrol, which formerly sold for N65 per litre, is now N97 following a mass demonstration. Diesel has been fluctuating between N160 and N170 for years.
Also on the other hand, consumers are not happy with the rate at which they buy fuel for their generating sets, despite their relatively low earnings and some of them have this to say:
Clare Adindu, who works at a teaching hospital in Lagos, says she would rather not calculate the total amount she spends weekly because it is mind blowing.
“I spend about N3,000 everyday on fuel alone. If I calculate it in a week, of course you know how much it is. I do not even want to think about it because it will break my heart. How much do I earn? Even if I earn so much, do I have to spend everything on fuelling my generator?” she laments.
For Seun Akanbi, she says she does not have a choice since the power situation in her area has not improved in any way.
“My job is so tasking, and so I cannot afford to cook everyday. I have to store food in the freezer and to do this, I have to power my generators because we do not have power supply in my area. For instance, we have not had electricity supply for almost three weeks at a stretch. I do not want to wait for PHCN again. I cannot afford to have the food I preserved in the freezer get spoilt. Thank God for generators,” she says.
“We have two generators: the small and the big one. We use the small generator during the day and the big one at night so we can power the freezers and other appliances, which the small generator wouldn’t be able to carry.
“We also spend so much on servicing these generators as well. So, I tell you, it is not only on fuel that we spend money, we also spend money to service the generators,” she says.
Richards Olajide, who uses diesel to power his generators, says his business might even collapse if nothing is done about the power situation in Nigeria, saying “there is no way we can depend on PHCN for the kind of my business, and what we do here requires constant power supply.
“For instance, we no longer depend on PHCN for operations on patients. We cannot be scanning a pregnant woman or some people who have different ailments using PHCN, it can be crazy. The most annoying aspect of it is that they bring huge and ridiculous bills that you would wonder when you actually used up the power supply from them.”
According to him, his company spends about N200,000 on diesel every month. “Initially, we were spending less than that on diesel. But now, the power supply has become so epileptic that we have to spend more. There is nothing we can do, but if this crisis is not checked, some people might have to start another line of business, which may not require constant power supply. We also have to service the generators almost every week and that on its own is another thing,” he says.
Funmi Ayinke says she spends an average of N40,000 monthly on her diesel engine generator, as she has another generator that runs on petrol. “In a week, I can spend about N10,000 on diesel alone. It means I spend about N40,000 a month. I am sure I spend more than that because I have a petrol generator also,” says Funmi.
Chima, a teacher, lives in a self-contain apartment in Festac in Lagos, says he has a small generator to power his apartment in place of the elusive PHCN supply, and has become a regular caller at the generator repairer’s workshop.
“The small petrol generator does not consume much petrol; but it is one of those generators which use petrol mixed with engine oil. Now, I find myself always taking it for repairs every now and then because the poor engine works almost 10 hours every day,” Chima laments.
“The repairer is like a celebrity in the neighbourhood now because everyone wants him to have their generating set repaired. Before the present bad power supply, he used to come to my house trying to find out whether I wanted to service my generator. But now, even with your money, you don’t get him to work for you so easily. But that is what PHCN has turned us into. At the end of the month, their bill is there hanging on our door,” he points out.
However, as the situation is bad for some people, to generator repairers, it is a boom time.
Lucky, who repairs and services generators, says business has been blissful in recent times. According to him, there is really no day that somebody does not bring a generator for him to service or fix.
“We charge an average of N2,000 to service a generator, depending on the size and it also depends on if we go to the customer’s house.
Days are gone when only the rich buy generators, now, everybody has generator at home. Though we are not happy with the power situation in Nigeria but somehow, it has made us have little change in our pocket,” says Lucky.