The residents of Magboro and its neighbouring communities on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway have urged the National Assembly to intervene in the more than a decade power outage in the area.
The residents said their call for the National Assembly’s intervention became imperative because the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company and the contractor handling electrification project in their area had failed to supply electricity to them.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos that the contractor handling the electrification project and IBDEC were not sincere about lighting up the community.
NAN had reported the restoration of power supply to the area that has 10 communities on December 26, 2016, but only for it to be a French gift.
The restoration of light to Magboro community was greeted with jubilation that lasted for just that day and the communities have since returned to its former dark state.
Magboro, like most of its adjoining communities, popularly referred to as Second Lagos, lies on a stretch of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway and has 75 per cent of its dwellers making their earnings from Lagos.
Magboro community like others lack government’s presence such as basic infrastructure like electricity supply, good roads, schools, health facilities and portable water among others.
Concerned about their protracted stay in darkness over a decade, the residents took to the streets on March 7, 2016 to complain of what they called 10 years of power outage.
The protesters converged on the Punch Newspapers premises carrying placards and called on the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and IBDEC to restore power to the area.
Worried about their plight, the House of Representatives on September 14 at a plenary directed the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing to urgently complete the power project in Magboro.
The resolution of the House came because of a motion by a Representative from Ogun State, Olayiwola Kazzim, who briefed the House about the neglect suffered by the communities.
Olayiwola, visibly sad about the blackout experienced in the affected community, urged the House to pass a resolution ordering Fashola to see to the restoration of power to the community.
The House then passed a resolution that “all the contracts awarded by the National Independent Power project, aimed at providing solution to the hardship have been abandoned by the contractors”.
The House, which was presided over by Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, then directed the House Committee on Power to monitor compliance and report back to the House within eight weeks.
The House also ordered that Fashola should ensure the completion of all electrical projects and restore power to the communities without further delay at most within three months of grace.
It also ordered that Magboro, Ibafo and 198 other communities in Ogun State must be connected to the national grid.
In half compliance with the order by the House, IBDEC hurriedly lit up Magboro on December 26 only to put the community back into darkness after that day.
The communities have yet to have power supply since then.
Lamenting the false claim of power supply to the community by IBDEC, the President of Magboro Development Association, Ola Ajala, said that IBDEC was not ready to supply power.
Ajala said: “I was called on December 27, 2016 that light has been restored to Magboro by a friend and I told him I have yet to see the light.
“It was then that I called other stakeholders who told me that the light was restored the previous day but since then they have not seen the light.
“What IBDEC wanted to show was that they have complied with the directive of the House of Representatives on the matter, so they hurriedly switched on the light to beat the deadline.
“In truth, IBDEC has not restored power supply to Magboro from all indications because what you don’t have you cannot give.”
Ajala said that the economy of the community had been badly affected by the protracted blackout, adding that Magboro had the entire infrastructure to have light but was overlooked by IBDEC.
He said: “The economy of Magboro has been in ruins since all these years, we have been depending on generators, which everybody knows what it means even to the health of the people.
“IBDEC should have been the provider of the infrastructure to Magboro but we took it upon ourselves.
“We have also engaged in talks with the management of IBDEC on the light issues but they have not been forthcoming as to when they will restore power to the community.”
Ajala said that Magboro Community had spent over N120 million on the provision of infrastructure to the community without input from either the government or the electricity distribution company.
He said: “We have expended well over N120 million on the provision of electricity infrastructure such as 33KVA transformer, distribution lines, feeder poles and so on.
“All these were provided 100 per cent by the Magboro Development Association and the Community Development Councils and all the members of the society.
“We actually tasked ourselves to do this.
“If IBDEC wants to bring power supply to Magboro, we are ready for it because we have provided our own transformers, feeder lines, transmission lines to this effect from our pockets.
“All what we needed is for the IBDEC to give us light and do some minor repairs to some of the vandalised distribution lines which are obviously because of neglect.”
Another resident, Olayinka Eyiowuawi, said the light restored on December 26, 2016 was a French gift by IBDEC.
Eyiowuawi said: “I am really surprised at the insincerity of IBDEC; it means they deceived the public into believing that light has been restored to our community, maybe to please the House of Representatives.
“What a French gift we had on that day because after that day light has never been seen anywhere near Magboro. It is so sad that we have returned to darkness after a day’s light.
“We want government to be really concerned about our plight because one is tempted to ask: “What is the weight of the House of Representatives order as regards connecting Magboro to national grid?
“The House should probably sanction all those concerned with the continued blackout in Magboro to set a precedence of the power of the resolution of the House.”
However, the management of IBDEC refuted the claim of neglect of electricity supply to Magboro/Mowe communities on the 33KVA line.
Regina Adelokun, the Regional Communication Officer, IBEDC Ogun Region, explained to the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos the challenges faced in the supply of electricity to the affected communities.
Adelokun said that IBEDC was not responsible for lack of supply to Magboro and its environs, adding that the company was only a distribution company which did not have control over the transmission network.
According to her, we only distribute energy when it’s available to all consumers because we cannot do otherwise in the electricity chain when energy is not available through the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
Adelokun said: “We are a customer-friendly company that is always ready to distribute power when it’s available to our esteemed customers.
“The Mowe/Magboro 33KVA line which received supply from 132/33KVA Ojere TCN, Abeokuta, had been disconnected in the last seven years by the then PHCN as result of the long distance and poor quality of supply delivered to all the respective communities.”
Adelokun said that when IBEDC came on board in November 2013, the company followed up on the Oke-Aro National Independent Power Projects to supply Mowe/Magboro/Ibafo communities and environs.
She said that it was discovered that the contractor who handled the job was found to have done a sub-standard work.
She said: “Thereafter, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency advised the contractor to rectify all defects before commissioning but it failed standards again.”
The spokesperson said that in November 2016, the management of IBEDC and Magboro/Mowe communities visited the project which cost the company over N60 million to complete the projects.
Adelokun said: “We categorically told them that the line will work effectively and efficiently if the new Abeokuta TCN station is inaugurated and to date it has not been inaugurated.
“The contractor also gave six weeks (to start and to complete) the 33KVA line project which elapsed in December 2016.
“With the support of the Technical Team, Ogun Region, headed by Akin Abiodun (Regional Technical Manager), light was switched on via Ojere TCN Abeokuta and this could not be sustained.”