People in some parts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, have heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated the restoration of electricity, 11 months after power outage, occasioned by the destruction of facilities and major power lines in the city by Boko Haram insurgents.
The situation crippled small scale businesses and compelled people to resort to generators as an alternative.
The electricity was first restored in the Bulunkutu area on December 22 and later at the Pompamari area of the metropolis.
Residents, particularly the youth who engage in small trades like charging phones, dry cleaning and operating barbing salons, especially at the Jagwal phone market, as well as women selling soft drinks and ice blocks, owners of commercial boreholes and children, were among the people that jubilated over the return of electricity.
The Borno State Government had intervened and supported the process of restoration of electricity in Maiduguri, especially in the efforts to reconnect the new facilities and power lines from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
It was gathered that the insurgents have continued to vandalise some of the facilities like cables, which delayed the full restoration of power to the city centre.
A resident of Bulunkutu Kasuwa, Ibrahim Ali, told our correspondent that the restoration of the electric power sparked jubilation in Bulunkutu among artisans, factory owners, traders and owners of grinding machines.
He said, “We received several phone calls for confirmation of the resumption of light. I remember that some of my friends called to confirm whether it is true that light had been restored. It came like a strange story but we are very grateful for the return of light in our area. We believe that many will return to their little businesses and life will now have a big relief.
“The power lasted for two days before the power company took it, but it is provided almost every day now and we are all happy because we have been unbundled from the shackles of total darkness. And many young men and women who engage in mini trade or services that require electricity have now been given a lifeline to return to work because working with generator has no profits.”
Another resident of the area, Ahmed Modu, said the restoration of electricity had brought a big relief to the people.
“We have been battling with the issue of charging our phones with commercial generators, which has damaged many batteries, but with the new development, we now charge our batteries in our homes with stable light.
“Another benefit the restoration of light has brought is the relief of handling our major borehole, which used a solar panel during the darkness era, but now, the electric power helps to pump water into several houses and also mitigate the long queues on the borehole dispenser. That is why we came out to celebrate the return of light in Bulunkutu.
“Another side of the relief is the water from commercial boreholes because during the outage, we used to buy a truck of 10 jerry-cans of water between N250 and N350; now it has dropped to between N150 and N200,” Modu said.
Two weeks after the restoration of electricity in Maiduguri, investigation indicates that only few communities and areas, including Bulunkutu, Pompamari, Bypass 20 housing, Budum, and some parts of Baga Road have started enjoying power supply.
Some communities in the city centre have not enjoyed the same because of the activities of miscreants, who have vandalised many transformers and stolen major cables, thereby depriving residents of power supply.
A resident of Gamboru, where electricity has not been restored, Bakari Mohammed, said the people were not finding it easy.
“We heard that power has been restored in some parts of Maiduguri, but we have already assimilated the bad condition without light. Prices of foodstuff and essential commodities have risen to a higher level, even the price of charcoal we use in cooking food has skyrocketed. We will continue to pray for the government to have the will to restore power completely in our state,” he said.
Mohammed said almost all the transformers in the areas had been vandalised and their cables stolen.
“Many parts of the city will not get their power back because the transformers have been vandalised. We also need the DisCo in charge of Maiduguri or the state government to assist in replacing the cables and transformers so as to achieve the desired goals,” he added.
A staff of the Yola Electric Distribution Company (YEDC) who didn’t want his name in print said that majority of the transformers within the city had been vandalised and the cables removed by the DisCo for safekeeping.
“It will take some time before the entire Maiduguri gets electricity because of the vandalism,” he said.
Investigation indicated that the worse hit by the power outage are small scale businesses. As a result, many have been pushed out of business, especially artisans like electricians, welders and carpenters.
Many of them started looking for menial jobs because their services require big generators and they don’t have the finances for it.
Small factories are also negatively affected by the ugly trend in Maiduguri metropolis, a situation that has resulted in increase in prices of goods and services because they all rely on power generators. The situation has also compelled some of the factories to lay off workers while others folded up.
Findings revealed that the situation has also given opportunities for traders selling generators to increase prices as a result of high demand.
A barber in the Shehuri area of the city, Bakura Ahmed, a small Tiger generator, otherwise called “I-pass-my-neighbour,” which was not more than N21,000 before the power outage in Maiduguri, is now N38,000.
“One funny thing about the generators is that they have no durability, compared to the ones before the power situation,” he said.