Power outages: Businesses count losses as crime rate rises in S’East

Some residents in the south-east states of Enugu, Anambra, and Ebonyi, especially business operators, have expressed dismay as the crime rate rises due to the poor supply of electricity in the zone.
They complained that the situation was worse in rural areas as many businesses have crumbled, leaving some young ones to resort to stealing.
The residents made their feelings known when the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) sampled their views on the incessant power outages in the zone.
A retired guidance and counseling counselor, Ms. Eucharia Ezeagbo, now a petty trader in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra, said that the poor supply of electricity had crumbled her rate of sales.
Ezeagbo said that lack of electricity in business areas where operators could not afford generating sets had encouraged stealing, as some recorded losses of items while selling to their assumed customers in darkness.
“Lack of electricity has encouraged poor economic growth in rural areas in the sense that most skilled workers now do nothing as they cannot afford to buy generators to continue their work.
“Even those who can afford generating sets struggle with scarcity and the high cost of gasoline, which has affected their businesses negatively.
Mrs. Ann Nwali, a seamstress, said her tailoring business had recorded poor patronage because, without electricity, the sewing machines could not be put to use.
Nwali said that the manual sewing machines caused body aches, so most tailors now switched to machines operated with electricity, adding that without light, there would be no business for them.
“Even if one has a manual machine, after sewing, you still need to iron the cloths to complete the sewing, so electricity is key to our business.
A hotelier in Obosi said that they operated at a huge loss because they hardly have lodgers on a daily basis, as compared to their previous experience.
The manager, who spoke anonymously, said that without constant electricity supply, rural areas were like hell because they could not enjoy the good life urban people enjoyed.
“Electricity supply makes rural people feel they belong, but without it, we are in a zoo.
“Not many people in the village can afford a generator to keep them on, but some business people are leaving for the city in search of a daily income.
Mr. Gerald Nwachukwu, an electronics and electrical engineer, advised the Federal Government to invest in other sources of power generation to meet Nigeria’s rising energy demands.
Nwachukwu said that power reforms as well as the generation and transmission infrastructure in the country should be reviewed.
“Some of the reforms to address the problem of power supply in the country are to mandate every state to have at least one power-generating station.
“Every state should be able to fend for itself, and the remaining unused power can be transferred to the National Grid to be sold to our neighbouring countries like Togo, Benin Republic, and others.
“The government can also invest heavily in other sources of power generation. Right now, almost all the power consumed in the country is generated from hydroelectric engines or dams.
“We can actually diversify into nuclear power plants, solar, wind mills, geo-thermal, steam turbines, and the like. Doing this will ensure that more megawatts are produced to go around the country.
“Make sure that our energy infrastructure is enough to serve the populace,” he said.
Another electrical engineer, Mr. Ernest Okpara, further urged the government to invest in renewable energy, especially solar.
According to him, Nigeria is blessed with abundant sunshine all through the year.
“Solar energy is the most abundant of all energy resources and can even be harnessed in cloudy weather; how much more in a hot one?”.
A cross-section of residents of Enugu metropolis have also decried the continued epileptic electricity supply being experienced for over a month in the coal city.
Residents, which included students and business owners, have lamented the hardships and inconveniences the current epileptic condition of the electricity supply has caused them.
The residents lamented the non-availability of constant power to run their businesses as well as power to run fans and air conditioners to check the excessive heat being experienced in the dry season.
A student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), Miss Oluchi Madumere, said that the excessive heat in the lecture theatres was unbearable and that “we no longer spend hours in the theatres.
“We are appealing to the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) and others concerned to please give us electricity, as the suffering is becoming unbearable,” Madumere said.
Another student, who simply gave his name as Ifeanyi, said that excessive heat at night had made one keep awake all night.
“I find it hard to understand why there is an epileptic power supply now that we need the electricity more,” he said.
A business centre owner at Edinburgh Road, Enugu, Mr. Okwudiri Ifedi, said he had consistently run into losses due to overspending on fuel.
“In the past two weeks, I have hardly found power during the day for my business. I do spend about N15,000 daily on petrol for my generating set to attend to my customers,” Ifedi said.
However, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) recently explained that the poor power supply currently experienced across the South-East was beyond its powers.
The company attributed the situation to low energy generation, which had generally resulted in a drop in power supply availability.
The Head, Corporate Communications, EEDC, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, made this known to newsmen in Enugu recently.
Ezeh, however, appealed to residents of the zone to bear with the company.
According to him, the development has resulted in low generation, leading to a reduction in the quantum of daily megawatt hour (MWH) of energy allocated to distribution companies nationwide, thereby impacting the quality of service to its customers.
“We understand the inconveniences this situation has caused our esteemed customers and appeal for their understanding, as it is beyond us.
“We can only distribute what is allocated to us,” he said.
Ezeh said that efforts are being made by the various stakeholders in the power sector to address this issue, and “we hope this yields a positive result so that normal distribution will return.”.
In Ebonyi, some stakeholders in economic sub-sectors have called for the need to deepen investment in solar power in the efforts to boost the nation’s electricity supply and save small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from collapsing.
The stakeholders told NAN that the way forward for both SMEs and the government was to invest in solar power.
According to them, solar power will enable all shop owners and business owners to have a 24-hour uninterrupted power supply.
Mr. Chidi Anthony, a resident, opined that fighting global warming with solar power will likely save Nigerian SMEs millions of Naira monthly.
Anthony expressed worry over the poor electricity supply in the country, which had worsened in recent times.
On effect on his business, he noted that it was biting hard on production costs.
According to him, as a fashion brand, we make use of a lot of electronics, like sewing machines, irons, and weaving machines, among others.
“Well, we make use of our petrol generator, and this makes it difficult for us due to the high cost of fuel.
“I am thinking of installing solar panels. I believe that will help me to have some savings at the end of the month.
“I have heard that the installation is expensive, but it is cheaper to do business. Solar power can provide energy reliability,” Anthony stated.
Mr. Franklin Nwachukwu, a barber along NEPA junction, Abakaliki, explained that the cost of running his business had increased tremendously, hence the need to raise his service fee from N500 to N1000.
“In Nigeria today, we all know that the price of everything is up. The cost of running a barbershop has also increased.
“I spend over N5, 000 daily to fuel my generating set because in my area, there is usually no steady power supply,” Franklin stated.
Mr. Omokide Jacob, a political analyst, described electricity as key to the development of nations and their economies.
“Industries, small businesses, and government institutions rely on it for sustainable growth and development.
“Nigeria has come of age to overcome this poor electricity supply. There is a need to invest in solar power to boost energy supply and reduce difficulties in doing business in the country,” Jacob said. (NAN)
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