Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Damilola Ogunbiyi, has said the agency would keep up with its plan to provide clean electricity to markets and economic clusters across the country, despite a recent fire incident at one of the markets it provided electricity to, the Iponri Market in Lagos.
Ogunbiyi, in a statement from the agency, explained that the plan to get markets in the country go off grid would no go on because the programme initiated by the federal government has impacted on the markets positively.
“This unfortunate incident will not deter EEI’s objective to electrify over 80,000 shops, empower over 340,000 micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs), create over 2,500 jobs with the initial 16 economic clusters while serving over 18 million Nigerians.
“It is a stark reminder that safe electricity installations and practices are paramount. It is a requirement on all EEI projects and a measure we take very seriously,” said Ogunbiyi in reaction to the Iponri Market fire incident.
The statement also noted that while the exact cause of the fire outbreak was yet to be known, it had nothing to do with the solar power installations at the market. However, some of the components of the solar system were burnt by the fire.
It noted: “Regrettably, about 17 shops were affected by the fire but thankfully there was no loss of life. The REA commiserates with the shop owners affected by the incident and is committed to providing the necessary support to the affected traders.
“Although the exact cause of the fire is still unknown. It has been confirmed that the fire was not caused by the clean solar system powering many shops within Iponri market.
“As a result of the fire, meters and cable networks across some of the affected shops already connected to the Energising Economies solar powered system were destroyed,” it added.
It quoted a representative of the Iponri Market Energy Solutions Limited (IMESL), Mr. Ademola Adeshina, to have said: “IMESL had to shut down the solar system in order to conduct a comprehensive asset and systems assessment. We are also working hard to restore electricity to the market in coordination with the Iponri Market Association.”
According to the REA, the federal government through it is implementing the Energising Economies initiative (EEI) which provides clean, safe and reliable electricity to economic clusters across Nigeria working with private sector developers.
It added that Iponri Market is one of the many markets benefiting from the first phase of the initiative.
It also stated that the EEI already has some transformational impacts on businesses in Iponri market as well as other markets across the country through steady power supply, increased economic activity and business growth, job creation and enhancing customers’ experience.