By Abasi Ita
Inhabitants of the Nyanasang community, Atimbo, in the Calabar metropolis, finally heaved a sigh of relief over the weekend when Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, restored electricity supply to the area after months of blackouts following a standoff.
Trouble began when an electricity pole in the area was knocked down by a motorist during a vehicular accident blamed on break failure and poor visibility owing to a torrential downpour.
Despite the collateral damage to his car, the motorist (names withheld) opted to replace the affected pole and went ahead to purchase a new one while promising to pay for the handling charges to cover the replacement.
Our source revealed that the PHED headquarters in Calabar was instantly contacted to facilitate the proceedings through the office of the Zonal Manager, Mr. Gabriel Modupe.
Feelers from the community told Summit Post that the outrageous estimate gotten from the PHED Calabar headquarters in respect of the job compelled the party to explore a moderate option by assigning the contract to some PHED staff without further recourse to the Zonal Manager
According to Etim Asuquo who resides in the area, “Since the area was already without light since April due to repair works on the transformer, it was easy to mount the new pole and run the fallen lines without resorting to the Manager who must be notified of any outage within his purview.”
After he discovered that the job has been executed without his knowledge, Mr. Modupe allegedly ordered the disconnection of the entire community from the national grid thereby plunging the over three thousand inhabitants of the area into total darkness for what he termed an” illegal connection.”
“When contacted on the phone, the PHED Zonal Boss was adamant insisting that the community must produce the motorist who hit the pole “to pay for loss of revenue suffered by his office due to the blackout before reconnection can be considered.”
Speaking to The Beagle News, a community leader in the area, Chief Baron Eyo said “I can not understand why PHED can be so insensitive to the plight of their consumers in Nyanasang given the harsh economic realities compounded by the subsidy removal.”
“I equally called Mr. Gabriel Modupe, the PHED Zonal Manager and he told me we have to produce the said driver to pay for the loss of revenue before he can reconnect us. When I told him that he is the one responsible for the revenue lost given that most of us are on pre-paid meters, he dropped the phone on me”
“At the end, I had to petition the national and regional offices of the National Electricity Regulatory Agency, NERC as well as the public complaint desk in the Presidency through report.gov.ng to get Mr. Modupe to reconnect us.”
It would be recalled that in April 2017, about 30 football fans were electrocuted while 50 survived with various degrees of burnt with a high-tension bare conductor snapped and fell on a soccer viewing center packed with fans watching a UEFA Europa League match involving Manchester United following an explosion from a nearby PHED substation known amongst the locals as 1st Transformer
Findings revealed that PHED is yet to pay compensations to affected families over their loved ones killed in the incident nor replace the overloaded transformer installed by the Donald Duke administration.
Residents now live in perpetual fear since the transformer keeps exploding intermittently resulting in constant power outages in the area.