Business owners in Ilora abandoned in agony after a year without electricity

ILORA ––– one of the basic means to the human race in life is electricity, which plays a vital role in the aspect of human activities in the contemporary age. But this is not the case for the people of some part of the poor rural small community who have been harrowing the experience of a year outage silently, most especially, the artisans and the business owners who were hit hard by the scourge of prolonged outage spurred by a derelict, faulty old transformer.

One of whom is Olufunmilayo 59, who deals in the coconut oil business. She has a mill using electricity that she uses for crushing palm kernel seeds into ground soft substances which will later be processed, to extract coconut oil. After the transformer had gone into a coma, her business faced a downturn and this rendered her a high blood pressure because of the interest-based loan she takes to run her work

“Whoever sees me last year may not be able to recognise me this year. When the thing happened it really pressured me. I had to go to the other side of town  where there is electric light or Oyo town at Saw Mill to grind and process it there. All in all, it is a loss for me. Things have totally turned upside down. We cannot eat what pleases us at home. I have made a move to shift my shop elsewhere, but all to no avail, I could not afford the amount the land is sold for, I don’t want to leave here. Help us tell the government to assist us”.

She told More Branches tearfully

Her desperation for the quick revival of the transformer was noticeable when each affected zone was asked to donate N1,000 ($2.4 USD) per head; she personally donated N 5,000.00 ($12 USD) because her business heavily relied on electricity.

The spread kernels receiving sunlight photo credit Abdullahi/More branches

As it was gathered, nothing less than nine zones were severely left to stagnancy by the collapsed transformer. They didn’t notice its syndrome when they experienced the first surge of the outage in April 2021 when it developed a minor fault

“When the experts were called upon to check it, they told us that, it was short of oil and we’re to fill it with four gallons of oil though, we later added one to it making it to be five” Olufunmilayo said. The climax of the ugly problem was exactly on the 25th of June 2021, the suffering of the residents in those areas kickoff, when the transformer was finally condemned. 

Another person whose business was propelled at stake is Rachael Eyinade, 30, who sells a variety of snacks in her residence. She has a refrigerator used for freezing sachets of water, being the most marketable and other forms of drinks. Before the upsurge, her wares move fast because people demand them quickly but now, her market has saturated and dawdles for there is low turnout as a result of the problem that scathed her business. “I  have to order from another place, a block of ices so as to make the drinks cool at least a bit to sell them for customers,”  she told the correspondent in an in-person interview.

While speaking on the matter, the Team Leader and Chief technical officer of Ilora National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) branch office

“They truly came to our office when they experienced the outage and when our team went there to inspect it and they found out that it was condemned. They held a series of meetings here with delegates of those zones and told them to go and meet their political heads because IBEDC doesn’t procure transformers”

 Mr. Busari told More Branches in his office.

The Welders’ Ordeals

The ugly situation has undoubtedly created unnecessary stress and struggle for the welders of those zones in the trying time, making them move to other shops of their colleagues one of those welders is Lawal, a middle-aged chocolate-coloured man with a spotty face. Prior to the time, the transformer would toss their areas into a prolonged power outage, he had many customers that patronise him as a skilful welder but now that the transformer had totally collapsed he had no choice but to become a full-blown peasant farmer.  

As time went on, the owner of the land he was using for farming came to reclaim it and everything did not go well for him. “I would have bought a generator set if the land I was using was not reclaimed, especially this time, when tubers of cassava are sold at optimum price in the market.” He told the correspondent dolefully.

Whenever the only few customers that remain give him work, he would have to move to Oke-gege where their own electricity is tottery. “Look him, (pointing to a young boy in a black dirty apparel  afar that is repeatedly hammering a metallic object) he is a son to me, (not biological) I can categorically tell you that he is the one feeding I and my family because I do move to his shop here, anytime the few customers I have give me work once in a blue moon to do.” He told the correspondent while preparing the iron rods he will solder when the light is later restored in the place.

“Let them write to notify and we will see how to chase a solution for them,”  House of Representatives member, representing Afijio local government, Honourable Seyi Adisa told the correspondent in a chat response.

The faulty Transformer at Oja-Isale photo credit {Abdullahi/ More branches}

Fury, Frustration and Despair

The situation which bites harder in geometric progression, does not fail to incur a sober street atmosphere for the people of the affected areas over their home appliances starving of electric light to power them to burst out lively, many of their inter-connected wires have been disjointed by the exhilarating cockroaches in conjunction with the spiders that spin their irritant cocoon on them.

That does not leave the barbershops at the edge of the streets untouched; Oke Idowu‘s shop is part of them. He sits on the bench half-dressed in the outer space at the shop of his friend who is a mechanic , a specialist in motorcycle repairing. One of the apprentices of his friend is pointing where he places a deep stainless receptacle of water he scooped from a  big clay pot inside. “Clay pot serves our own refrigerator for it cools water, since we do not have access to cold drinks again.”

One could see through Idowu’s unclosed dusty shop with loosely folded door cotton near his friend’s own. It is glaring that the atmosphere of his shop is dull for there is low customer patronage. For him, the generator is just a subordinate because he depends on electricity on account of the wavering nature of the generators.

“There is no hope that we will see light this year even next year it’s not certain, we have been in the darkness all these while we do not die, If it is only me, the other day the transformer is revived I will disconnect my wire from the poll, I don’t use light again.”

Idowu rants apoplectically.

The Imam of Jagun, Alhaji Hussein an elderly old man with a grey goatee, compared their tragedy to the old prisoners who have gotten used to their prison cell. “It would not move me anytime they repair it” he said frustratingly.

Unsuccessful Attempt

Findings indicated that the transformer in question and the one at Oke-Gege are part of the oldest transformers in the whole community. “Such a thing is prone to happen, for those transformers are aged” An expert says. According to the authority, prior to the current state of the thing, the areas have been maintaining it with their own money in the collective effort whenever it gives an unwell signal without government intervention not to talk of when its cable was stolen.

Now that it’s totally incapacitated, the elders of the concerned have been running from desk to another, written many unreplied letters but all to no avail. The coordinator and Monitor of the transformer Chief Aderinkola Daniel while responding to the issue said that the Engineer that helped their colleagues at Jobele town repair their own when they have a similar case, was called upon to inspect it and told them that, it will cost them a sum of N850, 000.00 ($2,044 USD) to revive it. And after long deliberation, they decided that each house should contribute one thousand Naira N1000.00 ($2.4 USD). By that, they have been able to generate 136,000.00 ($327 USD), remaining N714,000 ($1,717 USD). “Last time when I gave him a call, he asked if we would not mind a new one,” he said, referring to the local government chairman of Afijio.

The chairman in question is yet to reply to the chat of the correspondent at the time of filing this report.

A lone figure walking past Oke-gege transformer photo credit Abdullahi/More branches

 Erratic power supply, and the forced-out artisans

Oladosu, 45, a tall huge dark-complexioned man is well-known for his barbing skill. He is one of the artisans in Oke-gege who received the heavy blow of the irregular power supply, which has consequently thrown him out of his major business as a skillful barber to a full-time motorcyclist to cater for his nuclear family. He only opens his shop occasionally, especially in the morning and leaves for his riding business since he had already scribbled his contact with chalk up the entrance of his shop, made of unpainted planks covered with the rusted corrugated roofing sheets. The shop is standing in the midst of a compound of houses at the heart of Oke-gege. That protracted failing electricity has resulted in him using his problematic small old Tiger generator with a faded colour blue tank. Popularly known as “I better pass my neighbour”  

“I can only stay in the shop if our electricity is okay. The majority of us riding motorcycles are artisans but it is this problem that leads us to it. We may use light for only five days in a month and at the end of the time, the NEPA will bring N3000.00 ($7.5 USD) bill for the light we do not consume. If it is prepaid there won’t be any kind of cheating. They are in fact, part of the agent that adds pepper to fuel price hike wounds we are nursing. If you make a complaint to them that there is a glitch in a particular area, you are the one that will pay for their transport fare to the affected place. Maybe they should disconnect all wires on the poll”

Oladosu said sarcastically.

He keeps #100.00 ($0.2 USD) per day, so as to make it easy for him to settle his monthly bill despite the fact that he doesn’t believe in electricity again.

“This issue is a general outcry and it is not in our control, look at my power bank”. I also need light to charge it. One of the technical officers who refused to mention his name told the correspondent at the NEPA office of the community.

The cause

It would be recalled from the February 27 news report that, Oyo, Kwara, Ogun and Osun are currently experiencing an unstable electricity power supply due to the low weekly allocation to its network by the Transmission company of Nigeria this was made known by the IBEDC’s senior communication officer Kikelomo Owoeye. According to her,  the network by TCN has sharply dropped from 692.5 megawatts to 368.5 megawatts. Also on March 15, it was reported that there was a collapse in the national electricity grid due to the generation capacity that severely dropped to 2000 megawatts with about 14 power plants shutting down. “The Power Minister recently came on board to announce that the megawatts generated on a daily basis have sharply dropped to 50%” Mr. Busari said in his office.

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