From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has lamented that terrorists were constantly attacking power lines in the North East, thereby plunging major parts of the zone into darkness and making it impossible for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to transmit power or device other means to do same.
Government had estimated the cost of vandalised transmission equipment that belonged to TCN in Maiduguri, Bornu State, last year September at N1.7 billion.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Citing the case of the North East, he said after power infrastructure were vandalised by terrorists and restored, they were vandalised again.
He explained that government has been forced to design alternative but less efficient ways to supply electricity to areas affected, particularly Maiduguri, in Borno State.
He also said officials of TCN have not been able to access vandalised power infrastructure in Niger State including Shiroro because of insecurity. However, he said the security agencies were cooperating with his ministry on how to deal with the situation.
On one of such projects approved by FEC, he explained: “Then the sixth one is in Damaturu Yobe State. This one is very peculiar because as you may be aware, for over one year, Maiduguri has not been enjoying full electricity.
“We were able to take electricity supply through an old line of 33 KVA which we repaired and restored and were able to take 10 megawatts to Maiduguri over 130 kilometers on a 33 single circuit. We restored that around three to four months or thereabout.
“So, they’re enjoying but very little. By the time the electricity reaches Maiduguri, it will drop to six or seven megawatts because of losses along the way. As you are also aware, the 330KVA that takes power to Maiduguri was vandalised by insurgents. We tried a number of times to restore it, they will go back and pull down the towers.
“So, we now decided, in the meantime, to take electricity through the 33 KVA which they are enjoying but not as they may like it to be. It’s being rationed around the time.
“So, we are currently procuring another 33KV double circuit new one to Maiduguri along the same route.
“The idea is if someone tampers with it, it’s easy to restore within a day or two, unlike the bigger one which is the 330KV which takes weeks or months to restore because it’s in the bush.
“So, as it is now, even the one that we have installed, we have been doing hide and seek. Sometimes, they will pull one, two poles, we will repair and this is why we are doing this endeavour by the roadside. It is just to keep on restoring back.
“But currently, we have returned the contractor to restore the main 330 KVA that was vandalised some time back. So, in order to have enough electricity for Damaturu and environs, from that substation in Damaturu, and take some to Maiduguri, this project seeks to boost the capacity of Damaturu substation.”