By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR—RESIDENTS of Calabar Metropolis and other parts of Cross River State, affected by ceaseless power blackouts, collapse of high tension wires and transformers, which have caused the death of over 10 persons in recent months, are enraged at the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, over epileptic services and obsolete installations.
Inhabitants of Barracks Road, Bogobiri, a Hausa/Fulani community and Otop Abasi areas, who spoke to NDV, said besides the electrocution incident at Inyasang community, where seven football fans were electrocuted in April, a Bureau de Change operator, Ibrahim, was electrocuted some weeks ago, while two street urchins, Victor Asuquo 15, and another unidentified counterpart were electrocuted close to the popular Suya Arcade in Calabar.
The street kids, numbering about seven, were sleeping on a table at about 6p.m. when they suddenly saw a spark followed by a loud bang on the roof of where they were sleeping, and the high tension wire fell, wreaking havoc.
We’re mobilizing— Ikpeme
One of the irate residents, Mr. Romanus Ikpeme, said: “It is time we carried placards and express our displeasure about this ugly trend. We need to take our grievances to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, because most of the wires are old. Look at the transformer at the junction of Barracks Road and Otop Abasi, the one that caused the death of Ibrahim. The installation there is really dangerous because it is old. PHEDC must do something to check it; we have started mobilising residents to protest obsolete installations. We are tired of seeing our people die.”
It’s so sad—Lawan
Also speaking, Leader Hausa/Fulani and Muslim community in Cross River State, Sarki Salisu Abba Lawan, said it was time the government devised more advanced technology in the power sector. He cited the Inyasang incident, which claimed lives due to failure and substandard material.
He said: “This tragic incident is now a recurring decimal. Government must take drastic action; this tragedy could have been avoided if standard materials were used. If you go to other small African countries, you can hardly see power lines. Even when they are outside, they are well covered.
”The last time I saw the victim was on Friday Jumaat service. I was shocked when I got a report that he had been electrocuted because a high tension willfell. It is so sad, but we surrender to the will of Allah. Government, as a matter of urgency, must upgrade our electrification system to something better and more efficient, the high tension cables are substandard and vulnerable, and fail once there is a power surge.”
How we escaped death—Anthony
Speaking with NDV, one of the survivors, Bassey Anthony, said they were sleeping when a high tension wire fell on top of the batcher and smoke covered the whole place.
He said, “when it happened, we did not know where to run to because of the smoke and you know that the place was covered by smoke. Those of us who ran out immediately sustained minor injuries, but Victor Ekpri and Morale did not make it, they died on the spot. About five of us were injured because the current had entered the kerosene tank close to the Suya Arcade. But the victims did not know and they ran towards the place and were electrocuted.
We live on the street
“It was the Police that carried victims with critical cases, including the dead ones, and you know many of us live on the street. We were chased out on the premise that we are witches and wizards and some of us have lived here for more than nine years. I knew Victor and Morale for about eight years because we lived together since 2009 – now they are both dead.”