• Friday, April 19, 2024
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Ajao Estate residents drag Ikeja Electric over perpetual darkness

PEN 2023: Stimulating the economy through energy availability and affordability

Frustrated by what they termed “perpetual blackout’ in Ajao Estate, the leadership of the community has cried out over the alleged neglect of the estate by the distribution company (DisCo) in charge of the area.

Speaking exclusively to BusinessDaySunday, Lekan Ogunyemi, chairman, Ajao Estate Community Development Association (CDA), who dsoubles as chairman, Resident Association; Deji Fowakan, vice chairman, and Tunde Makun, financial secretary, deplored the alleged refusal of Ikeja Electric to supply light to the Estate, which according to them has made life miserable for the residents.

The Estate officials, who said that they had been on the issue for about five years now, alleged that the situation has got worse in the last two years.

They also alleged that supply of light in the Estate, whenever it happens, does not last up to 10 minutes per day, adding that for weeks, there could be “no flash at all.”

Lamenting the huge cost incurred on daily basis by individuals to power their residences and businesses, and the environmental cum health hazards as a result of the dangerous fumes from generators, the residents said that going to the press was an option they decided to take after series of meetings with the leadership of the DisCo on the issue failed to yield the desired result.

“We have tried our possible best; we know that the press is the friend of the people and defender of the hopeless. Our case is similar to the case of hopelessness. This is because we have been on this issue of epileptic or no power supply forever. We have been crying about this thing for about five, six years and all efforts have been made to reverse the trend but we have not been successful at all. Rather than getting better it is growing worse,” Ogunyemi said.

According to him, “as an estate that is high-end; with the quality of people and business that are here, and they do not have light continuously for days and when you have light at all, it is just for one hour, and that is even luxury when it lasts for one hour.

And the irony of it is that we are placed on a category according to the Ikeja Electricity- that is called Grade B, where we pay a tariff higher than normal and from their own explanation; with that kind of payment, we are supposed to be guaranteed minimum of 15-hour supply of electricity per day, which has become a mirage.

The painful aspect of it all is that we have even now turned to be policemen for Ikeja Electric, whereby we set up committees to guard their equipment to see to their day-to-day running as if we have no job to do. It is supposed to be a business entity, a corporate body; they are doing their business. We expected a huge difference from the days of NEPA, but we are not getting that.”

Efforts so far made

Ogunyemi further said: “We have written and visited the Managing Director of Ikeja Electric, as a result of our several petitions; they set up a forum whereby we can interact with members of the management of the DisCo of the zone. The Undertaking Office is even inside Ajao Estate. The Undertaking Office itself does not have power supply. We have had series of meetings where they made promises to address the issues but nothing is being done.”

Estate’s youths becoming restless

The Estate chairman also expressed fears that the perpetual non-supply of electricity to the community may be pushing the youth into taking some drastic measures.

“What is scary is that the youth of the estate are now becoming restless with the situation. There’s a limit to which we the elders of the estate can hold them back. And we do not want a situation where things will go out of hand. In the last two weeks, we have written two letters to the Management of the DisCo and there has been no response. We want to use this medium to tell them that there are human beings living in Ajao Estate that have been suffering perpetually. One of the challenges is that when you pay your bills and you are not provided with service, it is very frustrating. Basically, that is what our problem is in Ajao Estate.

“About four to five years ago, we wrote a petition, even going to the court, telling them that we wanted all the estate to be metered, but thank God it yielded a positive result. I wonder why they are not giving us light now. Today, Ajao Estate is about 95percent metered with reference to the information from their office. So, what is stopping us from getting light?” he wondered.

Also giving insight to the struggle that has lasted many years, Tunde Makun, financial secretary of the CDA, said: “At a point, the struggle pushed us to A Band, minimum of 16 or 20 hours. We enjoyed it for a few months. It still hasn’t changed because our tariff reflects that. It is not that we are not paying the right rate. No. That’s for me is a major problem.

“Recently, there was a discovery that something actually shifted, today we have less than I hour electricity supply a day. Sometimes, they flash it 2 minutes, 5 minutes. We are living as if we were in the rural area. In fact, those in the rural areas are being serviced better. Our neighbours around us are a lot better. They are not even paying close to what we pay.

“We heard that there’s an underground cable that ruptured- 33kva that actually supply Ajao Estate and the Airport. And as a temporary measure, they had to put the Airport on a different line at our own expense. After two years, they still have not repaired or replaced that cable for which I understand we are suffering for. We just want Ikeja Electric to do the right thing.”

On his part, Deji Fowakan, vice chairman of the CDA, expressed concern about the environmental and health hazards of the non-supply of electricity to the Estate.

He said: “To add insult to injury, despite the fact that we are on Band B, they have now told us that for power supply to improve in Ajao, we have to sign a bilateral agreement with them, which is as if they are blackmailing us. But there is no guarantee that that will solve the problem. It is our belief that until that 33kva cable which got damaged two years ago is replaced or repaired there will be no improvement. We are therefore, urging Ikeja Electric to take the necessary and proper action.”

Environmental/health hazards of non-supply of electricity

Fowakan further said: “The implication of non-supply of electricity to Ajao Estate is that it has made the environment polluted by fumes from generators. Children go to school under generator and we are talking about the environment- they are inhaling fumes; they come back from school and then they still inhale the same carbon monoxide from their parents’ generators. Can you imagine in the UK you get into your house there is no light; you can rest assure that within five minutes, your email will get a response.”

No communication gap

The Makun, the Financial Secretary, pointedly told BusinessDaySunday that the Ajao Estate case was not that of communication gap with the DisCo, as there has been sufficient information and communication in that regard.

“It must be on record that there is no communication gap between us and the Ikeja Electric. There is a WhatsApp group that the DisCo is also part of. All the residents and the DisCo officials are members, and everybody complains on that platform,” he said.

Businesses also suffer in Ajao

Makun wondered why an Estate that houses many businesses was being treated as if it did not matter in their business calculation.

“The Estate houses many high-end businesses, including hotels, private schools and others. It is sad that when you are driving from the International Airport at night, everywhere is pitch darkness inside the estate. What message does it pass to investors coming into Nigeria or first-time visitors to the country? Don’t forget, it is in this estate that many travellers who want to catch their early morning flights come to pass the night. It is in the same estate that those coming into Nigeria very late check into to wait for the morning to continue their journey to their destinations. Honestly, we do not understand what is going on,” he said.

DisCo says, ‘We are aware of the challenge, but working to rectify anomaly’

Meanwhile, reacting to the claim of non-supply of electricity in the estate, the management of the DisCo said it was not oblivious of the challenge in the area, but doing its possible best to rectify all anomalies.

In response to the issues affecting power supply to Ajao estates and the neighbourhood, one out of the two power transformers at Ajao Injection Sub-Station had fault some months back and we quickly backfed the whole area via the second healthy transformer and embarked on load shedding cum rationing among the residents.

The customers were duly engaged and kept abreast of the developments via our various platforms.

A brand-new replacement transformer has been installed waiting for commissioning.

Present Challenges:

There is a troubled Power transformer at Isolo transmission station, and TCN engineers are working tirelessly on the resolution of the fault, but this is presently affecting power supply to our Injection Substation at Ajao.

Regrettably, the current power supply inadequacy is nationwide and not peculiar to any single location.

At Ikeja Electric, we place a premium on our customers, and are being engaged on the developments and solutions proffered in promptly resolving their challenges. – Management