The South Eastern Zone of the Association of Electricity Consumers of Nigeria (AECN), has decried the increasing rate of tampering with facilities that provide public power in Abia State, saying it is a key security threat.
“Any serious threat to the economy and well-being of the people must be regarded as a serious security threat”, it argued in a statement issued in Enugu today (yesterday) and signed by the AECN Chairman in the South East, Engineer Joe Ubani.
The association also criticized the level of energy theft in the Aba Ring-fenced Area in Abia State as well as the debt burden on Aba Power Ltd arising from the refusal of even big manufacturing firms to pay for the power they utilise.
“The trend in nine of the 17 local government areas in Abia State serviced by Aba Power is very worrisome”, Engr Ubani declared.
According to him, “we have in recent days recorded a high number of deaths caused by roadside electricians and other persons hired by communities, companies and individuals to do all kinds of things on distribution transformers, low and high-tension wires, among other electricity infrastructure”.
The latest casualty, according to the association’s chairman, “is one Alison Obiajunwu, a young electrician who was electrocuted a few days ago in Obingwa Local Government Area while illegally working on a distribution substation in an attempt to change a wire.
“The more painful aspect of his death is that his young wife had yet to be buried by the time he went on the illegal duty,” he lamented.
Ubani advised individuals, communities and organisations that have electricity issues in the Aba Ring-fenced Area to approach Aba Power Ltd for a solution.
Apart from the fact that the utility has a large number of experienced and competent technical staff members trained to attend to public needs urgently, said Ubani, private persons and groups are not allowed to tamper with public electric infrastructure anywhere in the country because it is extremely risky to do so.
The electricity consumers association deplored the practice where some manufacturing companies owe Aba Power for over one year, with some firms conniving with corrupt technical staff members to bypass their meters.
There are some companies that pay eight million naira a month to compromised Aba Power rather than pay the company for the power they utilise, according to the AECN.
“The result”, it explained, “is the new load shedding in the ring-fenced area, causing problems for everyone.
“The Niger Delta Power Company which currently supplies electricity to Aba Power because the 141-megawatt Geometric Power plant in the Osisioma Industrial Layout in Aba is not yet 100% ready, provides power to the Aba Ring-fenced Area based on what the residents and businesses pay.
“Power supply has reduced in the last few weeks because many persons and firms have not been paying.
“They behave as if the Federal Government still owns, operates and subsidizes the power firms whereas the firms are now privately owned and they pay for everything to the last kobo”.
The electricity consumers association, therefore, encouraged Abia people to pay Aba Power, which it described as a utility genuinely out to make a fundamental difference in Abia State in particular and Nigeria in general