Bayelsa residents on Tuesday said that power supply has deteriorated one month after the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) reached an agreement to restore supply.
The youths had shut down the operations of the electricity DISCO in protest over poor power supply and estimated billing not proportionate to the power supplied to customers.
They alleged that PHEDC resorted to arbitrary load shedding amongst three feeder pillars in the firm’s distribution network in Bayelsa.
With the load shedding, the company supplies power between short of agreed six and 12 hours in turns.
However, after two weeks of protest, the government on Jan. 8 through its Secretary to the State, Mr Kemela Okara resolved the rift between the two parties.
Okara had appealed to the aggrieved youths to vacate the offices of the power firm where they kept vigil daily and pledged to prevail on PHEDC to provide ‘adequate electricity’ to the people in return.
The aggrieved youths who shut supply in protest agreed to a truce, but the problem had continued one month after.
Speaking on the issue small business owners called on the PHEDC and state government to honour the terms of agreement to restore peace.
The residents said the agreement was commendable but regretted that the situation had returned to its previous state.
Mrs Jane Okube, a stylist at Amarata area of Yenagoa lamented the difficulties faced with no power supply, adding that the high cost of operating a generator had made business less profitable.
“We had hoped that after the protest we shall stop paying for darkness but can you believe that they are making demands for payment for December when there was no light.
“Just two days ago, PHDEC came for light bill and I asked them to leave my shop, it is very bad,” Okube said.
Mr Ebike Joseph, who operates a relaxation centre said that poor supply of electricity had caused lose of patronage from customers who demanded for cold drinks.
” I am forced to source for ice blocks to cool drinks in the daytime while relying on generator at night.
“It is not easy to see people come for cold drinks and go away. The generators we use are not so fuel efficient. We spend more than N2,000 daily on fuel in the night and if we do the same in the day, how much do we have left, in Bayelsa communities?
“We have to buy ice blocks to cool drinks even if it is to retain our customers. We cannot think of passing the cost to the customers,” he said.
Ms Obiajunwa Modu-Spiff, Executive of Bayelsa chapter, National Youth Council of Nigeria who resides at Akemfa area of the state decried the return of epileptic supply.
“We have gone through a two-week period and had a festive season without power and compelling people to spend their limited resources in powering their generators.
“It was a very trying period and the small businesses got paralysed for two weeks but people stood by the youths to stop, ‘paying for darkness’ and the people endured the suffering as a price for demanding better services.
“The parties to the truce should keep to the terms to avoid a re-occurrence,” Modu-Spiff said.
Also, Mr Igoniko Oduma, a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst said that the restoration of power without achieving the objectives of addressing the practice of estimated billing was a minus and leaves much to be desired.
“The protest did not in clear terms resolve the issue of billing by estimates and generating imaginary figures as electricity bill when there is no proportionate supply of electricity.
“We have been through this cycle before, we have had the PHEDC ration power for six hours and twelve hours. The IYC should have addressed the core issue of metering based billing which is critical.
“If consumers are metered, then the DISCO will know that when there is no power supply, there is no revenue for them, and they will do the needful and improve on supply” Oduma said.