Okon Bassey in Uyo
In order to ensure that electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State pay their bills, 40,000 pre-paid metres have been procured by the state government for installation especially within the state capital, Uyo.
The Chairman, Ibom Power Company (IPC), Mr. Etido Inyang, who disclosed this Wednesday, said the pre-paid metres supplied by the metering company cited in Onna Local Government area of the state was commissioned by the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, last year.
He noted that the main challenge of government was how to retain power within the state, stressing that investment in transmission and distribution facilities by the state government was necessitated because of the inability of PHCN to provide electricity infrastructure.
Inyang noted that poor electricity infrastructure remained the major challenge of electricity distribution in Nigeria and warned that the country would face a bleak future if issues in the sector are not properly addressed.
He lauded the efforts of the state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, towards realising the â€œpower for allâ€ and 24 hours power supply in the state, saying with the initiative to complete the three major power sub-stations in the state, Akwa Ibom would become a major power hub in the country.
â€œNot just because of the darkness we will face by not having electricity but you can imagine the effect on our productive capacity.
â€œThe manufacturing plants will not be able to cope and millions of people will lose their jobs and with same number being turned into the labour market from higher institutions every year the situation could be unimaginable,â€ he said.
â€œThe 4 Lane power sub-station was commissioned last year and has drastically improved power in the state capital and environs, the Ekim sub-station will be completed in the next one month and the state government is making plans to boost the Ikot Ekpene sub-station.
â€œThe Ekim sub-station will definitely carry the load of about five LGAs and we have discovered that boosting the Ikot Ekpene sub-station will also help the state to improve power in the surrounding LGAs and so the state government is working on a plan to boost that area too.
â€œAlready, residents of Uyo are enjoying at least 20 hours of power except for areas with problems in their transformer or transmission lines and the vision is for the entire state to enjoy such levels of electricity supply.
â€œThat explains the commitment of the state of governor in the power sector. You also recall that the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola had earlier called him Mr Power because of his efforts in ensuring that the state becomes a power hub in the country,â€ he said.
According to him, the nationâ€™s quest for increased power generation and transmission would face a bleak future if the current federal government policy on power transmission that domiciled the service in the hands of only the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is not reviewed.
He said there was need to unbundle the powers of TCN to accommodate states and other investors interested in holding interests in transmission.
Inyang contended that with a new initiative by the federal government and stakeholders, the problem of power evacuation could be addressed.
He decried the huge debt owed Gencos by the Discos, adding that though the federal government support on gas purchase has helped to alleviate some of their problems, more challenges would be faced by the Gencos when the agreement would come to an end this year.