Theft, damages and technical problems preventing full restoration of power in Maiduguri



Maiduguri had gone almost a year in total blackout as a result of damages inflicted on transmission lines by Boko Haram.

The attacks on the assets were incurred January last year, followed up by incessant sabotages of repair works in the subsequent months, similarly by the terrorists.

Last December, after several months of efforts, power was restored to the city, tapping from a temporary transmission line, which was an explanation given by the Borno State Rural Electrification Board.

However, about three months following the restoration, some parts of the state capital are yet to be reconnected.

They include areas like New and Old Government Residential Areas, GRAs, Lagos Street, Giwa Barracks, 707 Housing Estate, and Damboa Road, among other places.

Ordinarily, before the incidents, there were two transmission lines providing electricity to the city: the 11KVA transmission line and the 33KVA.

Those in the latter are entirely still in darkness.

YERWA EXPRESS NEWS has learnt that a number of factors are responsible.

They range from theft of power assets in inner communities, damages caused by human and nonhuman factors during the period of the blackout to some technical problems, among others.

Theft of electricity assets Some of the communities still in darkness are as a result of theft by a syndicate of thieves, who are in the habit of stealing vital electricity equipment.

Last week, one member of the syndicate died while trying to steal a transmission cable in Gongolong, a community in Jere Local Government Area of the state.

During the duration of the blackout, they go about to rob electricity installations and equipment in communities, as very little attention was paid to them by the people.

Distribution cables, transformers and other vital hardware were discovered stolen in many places only after the partial restoration in December.

Most community members tell YERWA EXPRESS NEWS that they took no notice of all these when they had happened, as there was no power all across the town, adding that their attention was drawn to it only after the restoration.

'The cable in our transformer was stolen,’ a resident Bulabilin Ngarannam, who did not give his name said.

For this reason, some communities have begun fundraisers to provide the funds for the repairs and reinstallations.

'We have two transformers in our area and both armored cables were stolen.

'We now form a group to make contributions of N5, 000 from each person to raise something to buy the cable. We were told the cable will cost over N500, 000,’ Mohammed Mustapha, a resident of Windo Goma sha Biyu, Gwange, said.

Other damages on electricity equipment In addition to theft, another problem preventing the communities from getting reconnected is damages suffered by infrastructure.

In most places, polls and cables have been downed by either wind, rainfall or other humanly causes, especially during the last raining season.

Our reporters explained that there is hardly any community in the city without a case of these damages, even though repairs have been seen to be ongoing some areas.

Technical problems Another major problem preventing full restoration of electricity is technical.

All customers on 33KV transmission lines are still in darkness.

For this, some people desperate to see their homes lightened up are migrating to the 11KV lines.

YEDC’s account In an interview with an official of Yola Electricity Distribution Company, the company responsible for power distribution in states in the North East region, said the company is aware of the problems.

The source, who said he is not authorized to speak to press on the matter, explained that all the problems are being addressed currently, including installation of stolen items and repairs of damaged ones.

He also said the outage on 33KV line is a result of technical problems.

He explained that until the main transmission line is fixed, those on the line will continue to remain in darkness.

‘The electricity we have is from a temporary line and it is 33KV. But a 33KV line cannot feed another 33KV. However, work to reconnect the 33KV is also ongoing,’ he explained.

'I am also reassuring the residents of the affected areas that YEDC is addressing the problems of thefts and damages.

‘YEDC will buy all that is needed to fix and restore supply to them,' he said.

He also warned residents of the affected areas not to engage in any fund raiser, as it is the company’s responsibility.

'Whoever asked you anything in the process of fixing transformers in your areas, report him/her to the nearest police station,' he added.

However, our reporters learnt that the communities engage in the fund-raiser in collaboration with YEDC officials.

The communities say that the officials tell them that if they want to be reconnected to the power in time, they have to provide the money to buy the missing or stolen items.

Our source in the YEDC added that ‘even if it is our (their) official, he should be reported.’

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