By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowopejo
Barring any unforeseen developments, communities in Lagos with no electricity transformers or malfunctioning transformers will have every cause to rejoice soon if an intervention plan by the Lagos State government to solve electricity problem in the state is anything to go by.
The plan was said to have been conceived against the backdrop ofÂ Governor Babatunde Fasholaâ€™s trips overseas during which he sought for investors to assist his government in creating an efficient power system.
It was in the course of one of such trips he obtained the partnership of a Cairo-based company to establish a factory in Lagos for the manufacturing of transformers and other electrical components.
In August, the Governor led an inspection tour of on-going construction work at the companyâ€™s site which will manufacture transformers and fiber poles withÂ Engineer Hany Foad ofÂ EL Sewedy Electric Nigeria Ltd on hand.
Last Friday, the state Commissioner for Rural Development, Prince Lanre Balogun, Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu, and Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Strategy, Mr Segun Ayobolu, disclosed during a media briefing that the company has so far produced and delivered to the state 15 transformers which are to be given free of charge to communities in the metropolis.
According to Balogun, unlike the imported transformers the locally produced ones are of high standard with dry cell and require little or no maintenance, adding that they will be best suited for the rural communities in the state.
â€œThe Governor took a bold step by inviting and partnering with Egypt-based Elsewedy Company to establish a factory in the state to produce transformers locally as well as trainÂ Nigerians to take over in the nearest futureâ€, the Commissioner said.
Explaining the involvement of the Lagos State government on this, Balogun said it was driven by the desire of the Fashola-led administration to make life more meaningful to the people by using Public Private Partnership (PPP) to address the prevailing power problem.
According to him, although the responsibility of power generation and transmission and distribution lies with the Federal Government through the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the state itself cannot fold its hands while the people continue to wallow in darkness as a result of ineptitude and inefficiency of the PHCN.
While expressing his worry over the process of ownership of the transformers which are to be handed over to PHCN soon as they are connected to the National Grid, he added that government is still talking with the Federal Government on refund arrangement because the fund for the acquisition came out of the stateâ€™s scarce resources.
Giving details of the operations of the manufacturing plant, Oworu said the factory will be producing at least 100 transformers by the end of this year and gradually increase its capacity to manufacturing 100 every month.
On the partnership, she said the state equity holding in the joint venture was not more than five per cent besides providing the land on which the factory is built.
Her words: â€œBy this development, the difficulty of certifying imported transformers will now be a thing of the past. We are committed to provide the land and we have about five per cent holding in itâ€. She added that aside the transformers, the factory will also produce meters and poles for traffic light and street names.
She said the creation of employment for Nigerians within the factory and the possibility of handing over to them in the long run has also been taken care of as the Egyptians, who are technical experts, are less than 10 per cent of the work force.
In his comments, Bamidele described the feat as another giant stride of the state governmentâ€™s determination, capacity and courage in breaking new grounds to make life meaningful to ordinary citizen.
â€œThis is another achievement in the area of conscious efforts in PPP concept which is working for us in the state,â€ Bamidele stated.
Some of the residents who spoke to Vanguard Metro, expressed mixed feelings on the project. They feared it might end up being another â€œwhite elephantâ€ project like that of the state Independent Power Project (IPP) embarked upon by the then Governor Bola Tinubu administration which did not have any beneficial effect on residents.
However, a fellow who simply identified himself as Mr. Ebele was of the opinion that with Fashola in charge, the project would certainly see the light of day since the Governor has all this while been keeping his promises.