Eight days after the collapse of one of its main feeders in Aba, Abia State, which resulted in a weeklong blackout in some key places in the foremost Southeast industrial city, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has restored power to these places.
The restoration was done yesterday, according to a TCN engineer in Aba who was part of the team but requested to be anonymous because he was not authorised to the media on the development.
The blackout lasted so long because the circuit safety breaker at the Aba Overhead Feeder which failed and caused utter darkness in some areas in Aba and environs was not repairable, according to the engineer, who revealed it was replaced completely.
A circuit breaker is used to switch on and off a feeder line.
“It is a pity that this essential component of the Aba Overhead Feeder was allowed to be used for so long and was, in addition, poorly maintained”, stated another member of the technical team that battled the problem but craved for anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the public on the issue.
“Very poor maintenance is really the situation of the entire transmission network in Nigeria, which is a Federal Government monopoly”, noted Cliff Eneh, a power consultant in Lagos who is a former manager with the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), after years with the Texas Power and Light in Dallas, United States, as an engineer.
“The transmission network is old, poorly maintained, fragile, and fails frequently when a certain amount of load is placed on it”.
The Aba Overhead Feeder serves six other feeders in Aba and surrounding communities, including Okigwe Road which hosts a number of manufacturing firms. It also serves a number of big hotels.
Patrick Umeh, the Aba Power Managing Director, told select journalists on the phone this morning that his firm deeply regretted the long blackout because it affected “some of our most outstanding customers who play critical roles in national economic development.
“That’s why we had to go out of our way to assist the TCN to fix the problem immediately by assigning some of our best engineers to work with them day and night without cost”.
One of the TCN engineers who had earlier spoken to our correspondent confirmed that Aba Power engineers worked closely with their team.
If not for the involvement of Aba Power engineers, he explained, the restoration would have taken at least two weeks rather than a week because of the time it takes the TCN, a government organisation, to procure new equipment, install and commission it .
“Even though ours is a Federal Government enterprise and Aba Power is a private sector operator, the synergy between Aba Power and the TCN is commendable and I urge other electricity utilities in the country to emulate this relationship”, said the TCN official.
“ All of us in the power sector, whether in the private or public sector, are driven by one mission: to make power available to all Nigerian people, power that is reliable, safe, and affordable”.
The weeklong blackout in parts of Aba may not have been bad news for all electricity consumers in the area.
John Eze, manager of a popular restaurant chain, reported improved power supply in his place because electricity on Aba Overhead Feeder was diverted to other feeders when the safety breaker was being replaced.
Meanwhile, the Association for the Protection and Development of Aba Landlords (APADAL) has lauded the cooperation between Aba Power and the TCN.
In a statement today, the President General of the 22,000-member APADAL, Chief Alphonsus Udeigbo, reminded all Nigerians that the electricity business is a value chain, observing that if there is a weak link, power supply “will experience a serious hiccup in the country.
“Therefore, our Association urges all stakeholders in the power sector to continue to cooperate and synergize rather than work like silos”.