For the people of Epe, Lagos, western Nigeria, it is another New Year celebration in darkness as they have had to live without electricity for about three years now.
Residents of the area, who spoke with P.M.NEWS recently, said they had resigned to fate, accusing the leaders of the area of doing nothing because many of them do not reside in the area.
The electricity problem in Epe is said to have existed for a long time.
When the state House of Assembly Committee on Local Government Administration and Chieftaincy Affairs first visited the area and its adjourning communities in March this year, some traditional rulers had complained severally practically begging that the government should come to their rescue.
They complained that they could not boast of any development while the residents now pass through “hell” to make a living.
When P.M. NEWS visited the area again recently, the situation was the same.
Many of the youths were seen idling away; the few who had since resorted to commercial motorcycling for feeding complained that they even hardly get enough passengers to meet their targets.
“We are only lucky that foodstuff are not as costly as they are inside Lagos; we would have been in hell now,” said Jimoh Akande, one of the commercial motorcycle riders, who spoke with our correspondent.
Akande said he had to leave his trade as an electrician to get a motorcycle on high-purchase lamenting that he had not been able to meet the target for the payment of the motorcycle.
“I decided to learn the trade after it became clear that I cannot continue with my education due to financial constraint.
“As it is now, you can see me relaxing on my bike. Where are the passengers to carry?
“Because there is no enough money in circulation here, many of the residents prefer to trek to their destinations; I am really tired,” he lamented.
Another resident who gave his name simply as Ayo, said he decided to go into fishing because he could not afford to continue with his business without electricity.
“I had a barbing salon and did it in such a way that people come to play electronic games at the salon. This earned me some money too.
“But that salon has been shut down for more that a year and six months now since I could not continue to fuel my generator endlessly.
“We have appealed to our politicians here. We have also complained to our representatives at the National Assembly, but it is either the issue is bigger than them or they just simply forget that they are from this area,” he emphasised.
A local restaurant owner, Madam Risikatu Akani, explained that it was very difficult to get cold drinks in the entire Epe.
“You can get food to buy, but for cold drinks, I don’t think you can get in this area. You just have to manage the one available except if you don’t really want to drink.
“What we do is to find a cool corner within our restaurants and place the drinks there. With that, at least, it won’t be hot.
“You see some of these boys running after politicians for money, it is not like they don’t have a trade, but they can’t work now as it is,” she said.
When P.M. NEWS met with the two lawmakers representing the two constituencies of Epe, they confirmed that the area had been in darkness for a long time and explained that they have made several efforts to get the electricity problem in the area resolved.
Abiodun Tobun, who represents Epe Constituency 1 at the House, said those who think they have not been making efforts to solve the problems actually do not understand that the issue of electricity is in the Exclusive List as provided by the constitution of the country.
“We must put it on record that power generation is purely in the exclusive list,” he said adding that he and his colleague, Olusegun Olulade, had made several complaints to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) “and we are working assiduously to make sure the people get light.
“The area where people leave their trade due to lack of power is not applicable to Epe alone. It is a general problem, but Epe is majorly affected in the sense that the light it was given could not stand the test of time.”
Explaining the history of the problem, Tobun said Epe and its environs had relied on electricity distributed from the Ikorodu sub-station.
“Epe was supposed to enjoy 33 megawatts, but because the light travels over a long distance and passes through several communities and the fact that the PHCN deliberately limited it to 17 megawatts, by the time it reaches Epe, it would drop to two megawatts.
“And at this stage, the sub-station we have in Epe would not be able to boost it. This has made Epe to be in darkness of over a long period of time,” he explained.He said after several efforts to get the PHCN to resolve the issue, they were told that “to solve the electricity issue, they must have to get the provision from Abuja as they cannot go ahead in Lagos.”
He said, however, that the PHCN had received an instruction from Abuja and was doing its best.
Though he said the PHCN gave a deadline of November to get everything fixed and restore electricity, P.M. NEWS findings shows that Epe may still have to wait for several other months.
-Eromosele Ebhomele, PM News