Workers’ Strike Cuts Power Supply to 2,828MW

•Sector records N595bn loss in 2019 due to constraints

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

As businesses and individuals count the cost of last week’s strike by electricity workers, records obtained yesterday from the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has shown that the daily electricity supply also dipped to an average of 2,828 megawatts (MW) following the short-lived strike by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).

The records showed that on December 12, the union’s strike forced Nigeria to distribute a paltry 753MW among the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos).

The one-day strike, which took place on Wednesday, led to system collapse, which almost plunged the whole country into darkness after the workers of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), joined their colleagues in the distribution and generation companies.

Though the issues were resolved at the early hours of Thursday, electricity supply remained epileptic throughout the weekend.

For instance, as at 6.a.m on Thursday, peak generation was 4,214.6MW, but it later slumped to an all-time low of 12MW, resulting in system collapse.
By 6.a.m on Friday, 3,858.1MW was sent to the national grid.
Before the workers embarked on the strike on Wednesday, power supply as at 6a.m on Tuesday was 4,047megawatts.

On Monday, peak generation was 4,292.7MW while the lowest generation was 3,507MW.
However, despite the resumption of work by the workers, generation, supply has remained poor.
Available records from the Office of the Vice President indicated that the country’s electricity sector has continued to perform poorly with average daily supply between January 1 and December 13, 2019 falling to 3,772MW as against 3,793MW recorded as daily average supply between January 1 and December 13, 2018.

The electricity workers embarked on the strike to chiefly get the government to address alleged welfare complaints arising from the sale of power assets of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in a 2013 power sector privatisation programme.

NUEE’s General Secretary, Mr. Joe Ajaero, told the media that the strike was occasioned by the non-payment of the entitlement of over 2,000 workers of the defunct PHCN who were laid off during the privatisation.

Ajaero also said workers were short paid for over 16 months while the condition of service for those still within the power sector in the successor companies of PHCN was poor.

He noted that these unresolved issues necessitated the strike because the union’s efforts to get the government to respond appropriately to them had not been fruitful.

But analysing the impacts of the strike on power supply within the period, data obtained by THISDAY from the Advisory Power Team in Osinbajo’s office showed that on the average, the constrained volume of electricity for the period – that is electricity that could not get to the national grid was 2,916MW and more than the average daily supply of 2,828MW.

The data equally showed that within the week, the sector’s unearned revenue was put at N8.399 billion, indicating an average daily loss of N1.67 billion.

According to Osinbajo’s office, on December 8, the sector opened the week with the supply of 3,849MW to the grid and constrained volume of 3,669MW; the next day – December 9, it raised the supplied volume to 4,008MW and reduced constrained volume to 3,547MW.

It sustained the upward supply on December 10 with 4140MW put on the grid and further reduced constrained volume to 3483MW; however, on December 11 when the unions started their strike, power supply dropped to 2,146MW while constrained volume rose to 3,547MW.

The data further showed that by December 12, the impact of the strike on electricity supply was prominent as the country only had 753MW on the grid and 3,367MW unavailable.
This however changed on December 13 when average supply rose to 3,092MW but with a higher constrained volume of 3556MW.

Additionally, records from Osinbajo’s office stated that so far in 2019, the power sector has failed to earn N595.8 billion due to constraints from insufficient gas supply, distribution infrastructure and transmission infrastructure.

It explained that the unearned figure of N595.8 billion was from January 1 to December 13, 2019, and that it was more than what was lost in the same period in 2018 which was N507.046 billion.
The data equally noted that in comparison, average power supply within the period in 2018 was 3,793MW with constrained power put at 3,044MW, as against 3,772MW average in 2019 and higher constrained volume of 3,587MW.

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