Tempers rise in Bayelsa communities over prolonged power outage

By Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Tempers are rising in communities in Gbarain Kingdom, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over prolonged power cuts in the oil-bearing towns since the fourth quarter of last year.

The communities are poised for a showdown with the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) over the development which the residents considered as wickedness, abnormal and unthinkable.

According to investigations, a technical glitch had allegedly triggered an inferno at the Gbarain power station which caused the power outage.

The incident, which initially attracted the attention of the management of NDPHC, was being left to fester causing serious apprehension among the residents of the area that the company was not concerned about their plight.

The people are nursing fears that unless an urgent priority is devoted to the issue by the NDPHC it could jeopardise the state government’s efforts to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Their position was based on the fact that the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH)Okolobiri, which is the main isolation centre in the state is being fed power from the station through a 60MVA transformer.

The President of Gbarain Youths Federation, Opkonipre Iweribakumo, explained that the people were only being restrained because the state government was intervening in the matter just like it did in June 2020 when the communities had the same issue with the company.

Further findings indicated that even if the state government helped to sort out its prescribed scope, the management of NDPHC has been lackadaisical about its efforts to resolve the problem.

It was further gathered that the diesel needed to power the generator to carry out basic functional test after the completion of the state government’s intervention could not be provided by NDPHC.

To worsen the situation, cables supplying the outgoing feeder to the Ogboloma sub-station and the Teaching Hospital have been allegedly vandalized thus hanging the fate of the communities in the balance.

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When contacted, the intermediary between the state government and NDPHC, Olice Kemenanabo, confirmed that Governor Douye Diri had approved the intervention just as he did during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Kemenanabo, who also confirmed that work had begun, assured the people that the work would be completed in a few days’ time.

While noting that he was in contact with the management of NDPHC, he added that the company would need to be alive to its responsibilities to forestall the impending showdown.

He stated: “Sadly, if the NDPHC doesn’t wake up to its own responsibilities, the state of affairs may remain bleak and this might justify the communities to take measures that obviously shall breach the existing peace in the state.

“So, we urge the management of the company to take a proactive stance to avert the looming crisis.”

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Source: The Nation

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