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CONDEMNED TO DARKNESS : Ipaja-Ayobo residents cry out over collapsed electric poles, govt neglect

By Bose Adebayo

When the former 20 local government areas in Lagos State were broken into development areas under the tenure of former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, many Lagosians sighed with relief thinking this would aid or encourage rapid development.

When the Governor Babatunde Fashola administration assumed office, it also pledged to continue the relay race of  making this a reality. But many Lagosians are wont to disregard the promises made in this respect owing to their belief that some years after some of these local council development areas still suffer a dearth of infrastructural facilities.

Old Ijan Community (Ejigbo settlement) of Ipaja-Ayobo Local Council Development Area is one of them. Even though this community has been broken into smaller units, a good number of them cannot boast of a single drainage system and motorable roads network, let alone  functional boreholes.

The poles resting on an uncompleted building. Photos: By Bose Adebayo
The poles resting on an uncompleted building. Photos: By Bose Adebayo

To compound their problem, some of these communities have been wallowing in darkness due to non-availability of transformers, a development which neither the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) nor the state government could offer any tangible explanation as to why this is the case.
Although the remaining ones (about 20 in number), can only boast of erratic power supply but for the past six weeks, there has been total black out no thanks to the local council which embarked on a “digging exercise” in the area that led to the collapse of two electricity poles at Ayetoro junction. Affected communities include Ifedore, Oremeji, Odo-Adamo, Orisunbare, Onikanga, Peace land, Bada, Olorunnisola, Ishefun, Idi-Oparun, Camp-Davies road and Bolaji Communities, among others.

When Vanguard Metro visited some of these communities on Monday, some of the residents said they have contacted the council chairman and PHCH Opeki Undertaking without any  response from both parties.
No fewer than 150,000 people reside in these communities. Although the power supply has been disconnected, the poles still rest on a storey building as is the extension which rests on an uncompleted building. The situation  has brought business activities in the area to standstill, even as the PHCN has not stopped distributing bills to residents.

Sixty-year-old Mr. Mutiu Balogun of Ifedore Community has this to say of the situation: “To me, Lagos State government has never considered us important; if not, how can they decide to throw about 200,000 people into perpetual darkness. We were not informed, we just saw them digging and before we knew it, the poles were down and the local council refused to come to our aid. They have been asking us to pay our tax without any cogent development going on”.

The owner of the shop on which the poles are resting, Emeka Eze, told Vanguard Metro that: “We have been to PHCN at Megida and they told us it’s none of their business. We were afraid the day it happened, but thank God there was total outage on that day, otherwise it would have resulted to a tragedy as many people would have died. What can we do when government is not ready to listen to our plight”.
Alhaji Fadhulilahi Sodeinde, a resident of Onikanga, also blames the development on neglect on the part of the Lagos State government. “Many of us whose businesses depend on electricity can no longer put food on our tables. We have taken some steps which have yielded no results; both the local council and PHCN Opeki have refused to accept any responsibility. They have been tossing us to and fro,” he said.
“Is there any proof that government appreciates the fact that we voted for Action Congress (AC)? I can bet you that AC will lose the election in Ipaja-Ayobo in year 2011 because the party has not done anything to make us happy for voting for them. This is the worst local council in Lagos State; nearly all the communities have about 500 residential houses in them and each of these houses has no fewer than five occupants. If anybody tells us we have a local government chairman, it’s a lie. I have lived in this community for the past seven years and there is no single development. This is the third term of Bisi Yusuf and nothing has been done. At CDA meetings, once you draw his attention to any problem, he will walk out of the meeting. Many house owners have refused to park in since there is no development,” said Chairman Odo-Adamo Community Ayodele Abiti.


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