300 communities get electricity in Enugu State -GM Rural Electrification Board

By AdvocateNews on 03/05/2020

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General Manager,  Enugu State Rural Electrification Board,  Engr. Onyema Odo
General Manager, Enugu State Rural Electrification Board, Engr. Onyema Odo

As part of the priority programmes of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration in Enugu State, 300 communities have been connected to the national grid.

Already,  the people of 185 communities where the electricity projects have been fully completed are currently enjoying electricity while work is nearing completion in the remaining communities. 

The project fully funded by the Ugwuanyi administration and handled by the Enugu State Rural Electrification Board, has boosted economic activities in the state just as rural - urban migration has been reduced. 

General Manager of the Enugu State Rural Electrification Board,  Engr. Onyema Odo, who made this known while speaking with newsmen on the activities of the agency in Enugu, said the administration of Governor Ugwuanyi has fulfilled its promise to make life better for rural dwellers in the state. 

His words: "We are still working in about 300 communities since the inception of this administration. Out of these 300 communities where we have extended electricity, 185 of them have been energized and the people are enjoying electricity. Work is still ongoing in the remaining 115 communities at different stages of completion. 

"We are hopeful that before the end of this year (2020), we shall have more communities that will enjoy electricity.

"The projects are funded 100 per cent by the Enugu State Government. There is no counterpart funding or donor agency participation.

"His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had made it very clear in his inaugural speech that he is interested in making sure that rural communities benefit immensely from his administration. 

"So he meant his words and he has backed his words with action. Ever since he came on board, the rural communities have been so active. If you look at it very well, you find out that the rural - urban drift has been seriously reduced; a lot of cottage industries are coming up in the rural communities as a result of improved power supply.

"He has worked very well. For instance, the 123 KV Line  we are enjoying at Nru-Nsukka presently which was provided by Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN and assisted by the state government has boosted power supply to the whole of Nsukka Senatorial zone."

Odo explained that at the inception of the administration, a team of experts undertook a tour of the communities for an assessment of those that should be energised. 

"Before my present appointment as GM, Enugu State Rural Electrification Board, I was the project manager for 12 years in this office. Therefore, I have toured the entire communities to know those that have electricity and those that have not. We have the data bank and that made our job easier as we started working on the Electrification projects.

"The experience is wholesome; you can’t compare light with darkness. So you can imagine the joy of a community that hadn’t electricity for decades and all of a sudden, you start enjoying quality electricity light. So the experience has been very wonderful and the communities have really appreciated Governor Ugwuanyi for the recognition he has accorded them," Odo said.

On the problem of vandalisation of electricity installations, which has thrown some communities into darkness, the GM described it as a menace that affected the installations at the inception but was checkmated through partnership with the benefitting communities and security operatives. 

"The case of vandalism is an old menace that has been affecting our installations but what we did was that we had to partner with the local vigilante, the community leaders, the police and other security agencies, youth organizations in the different communities so that they will provide adequate security for the installations. 

"We made it very clear to them that if government has spent fortune to bring these installations to you, they are your projects and inheritance. Therefore, you must protect it with your life because government will not install transformers and also employ security men to guard them across the state.

"I made it very clear that it is the duty of the community, and since we have carried along the local vigilante people and the community leaders, the issue of vandalism of our installations has been brought to its knee," he explained. 

Rolling out details of  specific interventions by the agency in the urban area, Odo pointed out that the Ugwuanyi administration "did not concentrate development on the rural areas alone" as according to him, several vital projects were executed within Enugu capital city.

"There were several intervention programmes undertaken by the administration. For instance the state Diagnostic Centre was powered by Governor Ugwuanyi, the Army Barracks, schools, hospitals, churches; all you need to do is to identify that there is need for electricity in so and so area and it is done. He has changed within the urban cities more than 40 transformers. The bad transformers are supposed to be changed by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, but the Governor takes that responsibility to make sure that the people have power supply. He has no bounds and we are really happy about that," he said.

Continuing, Engr. Odo noted with satisfaction the partnership between the state government and the EEDC which, he said, has helped in improving service delivery in the power sector.

"We have energized a lot of new layouts. As you know, Enugu is seriously congested. But a lot of satellite towns are springing up. We are working in a lot of them to provide electricity. Some of them have been completed and energized while some are currently being worked upon," he said.

Odo, however, decried the attitude of some unpatriotic individuals who derive pleasure in sabotaging the efforts of the government to eliminate darkness and power blackout in the capital city. 

"There are some peculiarities in street lights. What we see here some times, is outright sabotage. When we took over the street light, it was almost in a moribund stage. In fact, I don’t know the proper way to describe it. It was the handwork of vandals. You can imagine a situation in which our armoured cables – the vandals and criminals go as far as exhume the amoured cables, cutting them and running away with the cables.

"They go to the generating sets, steal the batteries, the AVR, kick-starter, they go to our running generators, use pipes and syphone the diesel and run away. They go to our transformers and drain the oil in the transformers. Some will be outright sabotage to create darkness. This is besides the hit-and-run drivers that knock down the street light poles every now and then. This kind of problem is very disturbing. We tried our best to make sure that we curtail this sabotage on our street light installations," he lamented. 

Odo further explained measures taken by his agency to forestall vandalism of the street lights and other power installations:  

"The street lights are covering over 230 kilometres . That is the road length of the street light . And we have 58  existing transformers and generator substations. Each substation has a transformer and a generator.

"We have 8,578 lighting fittings in Enugu and Nsukka, that is , the bulbs. You can imagine how we can police these huge amount of installations. It’s a very difficult thing for us to do alone. So, what did we do? First of all, we divided Enugu into six zones. Each zone has six staff with a sectional head. We divided Nsukka into two zones also with equal number of staff with a sectional Head. We liaise with the security agencies such as the police, the Civil Defence, local vigilante, and some public figures. These people give us information and apprehend anybody tampering with our installations; arrest any driver whose vehicle knocks down our street light poles and report to us .

"For now, these are the measures we are taking to tackle the vandalisation and sabotage of our street lights and installations , and so far it is yielding good results. We are having less cases of vandalisation of our street lights now. We have more than 15 vehicles at various police stations whose drivers are suspects as at present. When we catch the suspect, we make sure the person replaces the installations before we leave him. And the measure is really paying off."

Posted 03/05/2020 3:07:44 PM


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