Management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) has complained that the ongoing picketing of its offices in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has thrown four states of its coverage area into “darkness.”
John Onyi, spokesman of PHED, said in Port Harcourt, “The blackout currently being experienced in most parts of (our) coverage area is as a result of the organised labour action that barricaded and shut PHED offices and injection substations.”
All four states, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, have been without a flicker of electricity since Tuesday morning; thereby further traumatising Nigerians in the four oil-rich states.
Onyi said the picketing situation “has made it impossible for power to be wheeled out to all our customers.”
According to Onyi, “the picketing and shutting down of offices have equally exposed our prepaid customers to difficulties in vending currently.”
He said they were “hopeful that the contentious issues raised by the labour leaders would be resolved soonest,” urging the customers, who remained committed through their calls that they regretted the inconvenience the action has created.
PHED covers Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, with Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as its operational headquarters.
But in another development, Cross River has strongly accused the electricity distribution company (Disco) of massively robbing it (Cross River) of some 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity meant for the state’s consumers, thereby leaving the state in almost perpetual darkness for most parts of the year.
On Tuesday, members of the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) picketed the PHED office in Port Harcourt, barricading the complex; which has prevented the workers to undertake any form of duty.
The action of the Labour stems from what it described as PHED management’s refusal to allow its workers under the NUEE to unionize.
According to electricity consumers in Calabar, PHED had allegedly been engaged in “shady business deals” in Cross River, as it had often been robbing the state of the 300 megawatts of power it generates, and gives same to sister states, leaving the state with only 20mw to survive on.
The 300mw of electricity is produced by the Niger Delta Independent Power plant (NIPP) at Odukpani, Cross River, where the people alleged the “worst power situation is being suffered daily.”
“Power supply, as witnessed in Calabar, Cross River capital, is often either rationed or some parts of the city are perpetually left in complete darkness for days on end,” some of the customers alleged.
In addition, it was disclosed that PHED, since it took possession of distributing power in the Niger Delta region (four states), it has been boarding on the old system it inherited, with no equipment overhaul, which made the reason for epileptic power supply to continue to trail the state, despite efforts by the state government to reverse the trend.
The Cross River state chairman of NUEE, Lawrence Chinedu, who disclosed that the state was being cheated by PHED, during an ongoing protest in Calabar by PHED NUEE chapter, said, “Odukpani IPP is generating over 300 megawatts of power, but Calabar is taking only 20MW.
“What we are generating is taken to other states because of PHED’s refusal to do minor overhaul,” Chinedu disclosed further.
For Steve Ezenwa, NUEE national secretary, “as a union, we have always argued that there is enough power to be evacuated, but they have refused to evacuate this power.
Alexander Omotayo, NUEE Cross River organizing secretary, said, “This company is not interested in what the masses are going through (in Cross River State), but (is only) interested in making money.”
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