• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Worsening power supply limits businesses in A/Ibom – UYOCCIMA

A/Ibom, African Delta Power sign 732mw deal for Ibom power plant

The Uyo Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (UYOCCIMA) has identified worsening power supply and the lack of access to capital as major factors limiting the growth of entrepreneurship in Akwa Ibom State.

According to the chamber, as against in the past when Uyo, the state capital had could boost of 18 hours of supply, the situation right has deteriorated so badly that some parts of the city are now in total darkness with small businesses severely impacted.

Nseyen Ebong, the president of UYOCCIMA in an interview in Uyo, decried the poor public supply in Akwa Ibom, despite being a major power generating state with an independent power plant (IPP) said to be providing power to the national grid.

Ebong, a former rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, criticised the extant laws that have made it impossible for states to generate and retain the power, saying such archaic laws should be abrogated.

“Now when we talk of improving the business environment, one of the critical factors is the availability of electricity. What business are you going to do that you don’t need electricity? I was a student of the World Maritime University in Sweden, sponsored by the United Nations. For two years, from the day I arrived till the day I left, I did not see the light go off for one second. Maybe it happened one day while I was asleep, but before I woke up, they had restored light but during all the time of my awakening hours, I never saw a flicker. So I used to ask, ‘what technology is being used to generate electricity and ensure constant power supply while ours is epileptic.

Read also: ‘Poor power supply and cost of transportation major production challenges in Nigeria’

“I was thinking that with Governor Udom Emmanuel continuing in office, we will be thinking of 24-hour supply. As the president of UYOCCIMA, I cannot tell you that I am happy with the power supply situation in Uyo, not even the entire state. Let me say it and this is one of the critical factors that affect businesses.

According to him, if the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) cannot give us constant electricity, “we should make noise and let them go away. This is my position, and I believe that if they cannot give us constant power, they should go away. If Ibom Power can give Akwa Ibom constant power, we find ways and means to let them supply us with power.

“I cannot see how Ibom Power can be generating enough power to power the state yet we don’t have electricity. They say when you generate power, you have to put it into the national grid; this is like going into a black hole. You won’t see it again. So what is the use for this? They say there are laws that make it impossible for states to generate and distribute power, these are archaic laws and should be changed,’’ he said.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the claims that the state government was unable to provide a counterpart funding of N2 billion that would enable the Bank of Industry to provide financial support to businesses in the state while being one of the top recipients of high federal allocation monthly.

For finance, we reached out to the Bank of Industry, when we watch national television and see so many people from other parts of the country benefit from the bank’s services, I have never seen an Akwa Ibom business being supported by the Bank of Industry and now we are asking the bank, why don’t we have people from Akwa Ibom as beneficiaries, where is your presence in Akwa Ibom.

“When they came here, I asked them, ” What makes it difficult for you to establish an office in Akwa Ibom? We made that request about three or four years ago. What they told us was that they had asked the state government since two administrations ago, to partner with them by way of counterpart funding to act as guarantor’s fund and the state government asked them to wait.

From the federation account allocation, for the past how many years, Akwa Ibom has been one of the top recipients of highest allocations, just a one-off N2 billion to support your funding of businesses until today, that is where we left it. UYOCCIMA does not have N2 billion, we could have given them N2 billion, we know that Akwa Ibom businesses could have gone there to collect N10 million, N50 million to expand their businesses.”

Ebong, who singled out the establishment of an airline in the state as one of the laudable achievements of the present administration, said it would be impossible to travel to Calabar to board a flight now that the Calabar-Itu highway has been in a deplorable state for years.