From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
About two weeks after, residents of Port Harcourt and parts of Obio/Akpo Local Government Areas in Rivers State are still in total blackout, following an attack by some irate youths of Oyigbo LGA on the Afam Transmission Station.
It would be recalled that the Oyigbo youths had accused the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), of not supplying the area with sufficient power; as a result they stopped workers at the transmission station from accessing the facility.
During their protest, they alleged that PHED had disconnected them from the federal grid not minding they are host community of one of the largest transmission stations.
In response to the youths accusation, John Onyi Manager, Corporate Communications, PHED, noted that the blackout in major cities of the state was as a result of the recent attack on the Afam station.
Mr Onyi who stated that the PHED had never disconnected the Afam community from having access to steady power supply as alleged, stressed that the company was battling with some challenges with hope to improve in their supply of power across their states of coverage.
He said: ‘The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc, wishes to inform its valued customers and the members of public that Port Harcourt metropolis, the Rivers state capital has been experiencing power outage this week as a result of the action of Oyigbo Youth who barricaded the Transmission Station located inside Afam Community, the main source of power supply to the City.
‘The Oyigbo Youth also carried out the same habitual action on the August 14, 2020, which culminated to total darkness in the Garden City, forcing a meeting of all stakeholders including Rivers State Ministry of Power on August 27, with a view to resolving the imbroglio.
‘The said meeting led to the setting up of a subcommittee with the mandate of finding a lasting solution to incessant protests by the youth of the area and it was given ten working days to submit its report.
‘While waiting for the report of the subcommittee, the youth in their numbers embarked on flagrant action and barricaded the TCN station without recourse to the action points of the sterling committee, thereby stopping PHED from evacuating power to the good people of Rivers State on daily basis at a period where the country is gradually recovering from the shock of the pandemic.
‘For avoidance of doubt the community was not disconnected by PHED as widely speculated in the public space championed by the youth but the loss of supply to the area was due to faults on the lines’.
The PHED spokesperson who informed that the management of PHED is working hard to restore back power in Port Harcourt, urged stakeholders to prevail on the youths to desist from attacking the transmission station.
‘We were going to fix the fault and discovered that it was huge which requires resources. But we are constrained to deploy such huge resources to a community that has never paid electricity bill for over seven years of PHED’s existence. At present we are struggling to pay salaries and other statutory obligations.
PHED therefore, seeks the intervention of the opinion leaders and security agencies to prevail on the youth to vacate the place to enable PHED distribute power to its esteemed customers and also appeals for their understanding while waiting for the final resolution’.
Meanwhile, the blackout has not only affected residents in the areas but is beginning to cripple flow of businesses, especially with recent hike in fuel price.