By Ikwen Atuaka
A show of indifference greeted the arrival of electricity Thursday, in Obudu local government area as the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) supplied power for the first time in over two months CrossRiverWatch can authoritatively report.
It is still unclear at exactly what time in the morning that supply began with CrossRiverWatch’s Ikwen Atuaka suggesting between 7:00 to 7:30am. “With only a few believing what they saw as it has been pretty long” he says.
Several respondents who spoke to CrossRiverWatch expressed indifference. “O are they ready to supply power?” queried Godspower Assang.
To Rose Ugbe, a nurse “we are used to buying fuel for our power generating sets so this means nothing” while Alice, a vegetable seller says “it does not affect my vegetables, I am on my way to the market”.
The prolonged power outage and alleged high billing system led to demonstrations by several unions operating in the council area with letters written and copied to several authorities, including the governor, PHEDC among others.
The Councilor representing Utugwang central ward, Denis Etiongbe in a telephone interview with our reporter alleged “we have not had light in our community for over ten years.
This is because the distribution lines were destroyed by wind and since then NEPA and PHCN (Former names of electricity agencies, now christened PHEDC) have not said or done anything despite countless notifications and when we as a community, which I contributed personal funds decided to fix it, they run down with a bill with a very small community in the ward asked to pay 60 thousand Naira”.
Several other respondents who spoke with CrossRiverWatch pointed out instances where bills paid for one month were not reflected in the following month, and what one respondent termed as “the astronomical rise in the bills.”
Getting a reaction from the Business Manager of PHEDC in the area was not possible as no staff was available during several visits by CrossRiverWatch to their office located along Ogoja road in Obudu main town.
Criticisms have continuously trailed the billing system of the PHEDC in Obudu with investigations by our reporter suggesting that the non-compliance of bill payment by customers in the Obudu/Obanliku zone of the Ogoja business district as a major factor for the non supply of electricity for some time now. The Obudu Legislative Council had adopted a resolution on May 20, 2015 to stop payment of electricity bills until supply improves.
Cross River Governor, Benedict Ayade who hails from the local government was not spared either with our Government House Correspondent quoted as saying “throughout our stay in Obudu and Obanliku, there was no power supply as every public and private place and event visited or attended came alive with power supplied from movable hydrocarbon powered electricity generating plants.”
The governor during the thanksgiving service on August 30, 2015 had promised the people that they will not be in darkness any more by Christmas or latest by Easter 2016 which though was applauded by some attendees in church, others however, were sceptical about it as according to them, work in the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) injection sub-station intended to serve Obudu and Obanliku local government areas has stopped for almost a year.
On the occasion, Ayade promised that “If you have this Christmas in darkness and it extends to Easter, this is not me! How can people live in perpetual darkness in this world? What is the essence of been a governor when I come to my people everyday there is no light.” he queried.
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