Knocks on EEDC, state govt as acute water scarcity hits Anambra

As power supply continues to dwindle across the five South East states, residents of Anambra State lament the hardship the development has brought on them.

An investigation by HMTV showed that acute water scarcity has hit all the major towns in the state.

In Anambra, public water supply is almost nonexistent. For example, state water supply and public utilities’ offices have remained only a physical office, with no activity taking place over the years.

As a result, many families rely on sumo-powered boreholes drilled in their residences, for their water needs.

But for close to two months now, electricity supply in most parts of Anambra has remained epileptic.

While most parts of Anambra have remained in perpetual darkness, other parts that are privileged to witness power supply can only get low voltage that seems far too low to power their sumo, or any other household appliance.

The high cost of fuel and gas has also limited many commercial water sellers from engaging in the business, making it hard for families to access water.

In many instances, many water vendors no longer sell water, while the few that are available sell at very exorbitant prices.

For example, in Okpuno area of Awka, most residents who live in high rise buildings, but cannot afford to pump water using their private boreholes, have to rely on public boreholes, most of which are in faraway locations.

A resident, Mrs. Rose Obasi said: “In the 10 years I have stayed in Awka, I have never experienced this level of suffering. Almost throughout this term, my children have been going late to school.

“The reason is that they wake up and go to fetch water every morning; before they come back and prepare for school, it is already late.

“The stress they undergo to take water up to the third story-building where we stay is another work. We are really suffering, and I don’t know when this will come to an end.”

Another resident of the area, Mrs. Ifeoma Eke decried the impact of the current situation on women and children who are saddled with the responsibility of fetching water for household use.

“We now need to leave everything else to look for water. In many places, you buy one jerrican for 50 naira.

“You can imagine the impact of the stress on every family. The children are out looking for water when they are expected to get busy with other things,” Eke bemoaned.

A final year student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Amara Chukwudi, was full of frustration over the situation which had made them spend unnecessarily.

“I bathed this morning with sachet water. There was no light, and we could not find any means of pumping water in our hostel.

“Remember the price of petrol is equally unfriendly. Nigeria is fast becoming uninhabitable,” she lamented.

A mother of three, Mariam Zaidu, also shared a discomforting tale about the water challenge.

“More regrettably, this is happening at a time when there is too much heat. My children could not sleep yesterday.

“At the same time, power supply has dropped drastically. We need urgent government intervention, honestly,” she concluded.

In Onitsha, the densely populated commercial capital of Anambra State, electricity consumers also expressed worry over poor supply of electricity and called for withdrawal of license from the power distribution firm, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).

Some of the consumers, who spoke to HMTV, claimed that at this critical period of economic crisis where hyperinflation of goods and services was the order of the day, the EEDC had contributed to diminishing their economic fortunes through unnecessary power outages for long hours.

Mr. Oseka Ifeajuna, a businessman, who owns a cold room in Onitsha, in an interview, disclosed that Nigeria does not want to grow as an economic giant because of selfish interests of owners of power distribution firms.

He reasoned that if the Federal Government under the then President, Goodluck Jonathan had considered some foreign electricity giants, poor electricity supply in Nigeria would have been a thing of the past.

He lamented that the high cost of fuel has also contributed to the downturn of his business, as he has no other alternative to survive in his cold room business.

Mr. James Onyedika, a barber, criticized both the Federal Government and the power distribution company, EEDC, for shortchanging Nigerians economically.

Onyedika said that the Federal Government and the EEDC were contributing to mass poverty in the country through their policies and actions.

He described the Federal Government and the power distribution company as “agents of darkness.”

He said that skilled youths were being suffocated in Nigeria under the present administration.

“This government is hypocritical. They don’t want poor people to survive in this country. How can you ask people to engage in one skill or the other, but at the end come up with one policy to cage the same people you pretend to be helping?” He queried.

He called for the withdrawal of the operating licence of EEDC, saying: ”It is highly unfortunate that a power distribution company managed by an Igbo man is contributing to poverty in the South East knowing that Igbos are industrious people who own several businesses and could be easily affected by poor supply of electricity.”

Reacting to this, the EEDC has insisted that it has the power to supply electricity in the entire Southeast zone but stated that the supply of gas has been a major challenge.

In a press release by the spokesperson of the organization, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, EEDC said: “We wish to inform our esteemed customers that the current state of power supply within its network which has resulted in a drop in supply availability is due to low power generation caused by gas constraints to the thermal generating companies.

“This situation is beyond us, and this is not peculiar to EEDC. This development has resulted in low generation, leading to a reduction in the quantum of daily megawatt hour (MWH) of energy allocated to distribution companies nationwide.

“Consequently, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which is our primary source of power supply is constrained, as they only transmit what is generated and have resorted to System Load-shedding to forestall possible system collapse.

“This situation has equally impacted the quality of service to our customers, as we are contending with very low energy allocation wheeled to us by the TCN for distribution to our customers. A situation that has left us load-shedding available power to ensure it goes round.”

Meanwhile, as things stand, with the current rate of the dollar to Naira, which has remained high, the procurement of gas supply may remain high for a long time, and this will continually affect the allocation of power to EEDC, for onward distribution to end users.

A resident, Mr Bala Usman lamented that: “It is even worse that it is happening at this time when the weather is so hot.

“With the level of heat we are experiencing, and nonavailability of power, I’m afraid, we’re headed for the worst.”

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