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Ebonyi Residents Protest 3-month Blackout in Abakaliki

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From Mba Nnenna – Abakaliki

Residents of Azugwu Street in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital, have staged a warning protest over a 3-month blackout and alleged negligence on the part of the Enugu Electrical Distribution Company (EEDC) to restore a failed transformer in the area.

Our correspondent gathered that the residents, who came out enmass, lamented over crippled businesses in the area as most shop owners depended on EEDC for power supply.

They equally noted the current economic hardship in the country as well as the high cost of petroleum, which most people could not afford, and the ugly development has led their businesses into debt and losses.

One of the protesters, Comrade Joseph Orji, a business owner who narrated the ordeal, blamed the EEDC for replacing a failed transformer with a substandard one after suffering a blackout for over 4 months in the year 2023.

“The problem started last September, when our transformer here was packed. We took it upon ourselves, wrote letters to EEDC, but to no avail, and when we pressured them much, they came, took it away, and instead of working on it to function properly, they brought a substandard one for us,” Orji said.

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He alleged that the transformer, which the EEDC officials brought to the street around the second week of December 2023, only lasted for about two months and got damaged beyond repairs, affirming that it has been out of service since February 2024, which is over three months now.

“We have been talking and appealing to them, that look, this is dry season, the heat is too much, there is no water here because the boreholes need light to function, we have been suffering, businesses have been collapsing, the price of fuel is at a hike, when you buy fuel, 3000 naira for 3 liters, it doesn’t last for more than 3 hours, and all the money we are making now returns back to expenses.” . He explained.

Another resident, Offor Okwudili, a 300-level student of Mass Communication at Ebonyi State University, regretted that the blackout has affected his studies even as they are preparing for the semester examinations, noting that some of his colleagues have lost their phones and chargers while trying to power their gadgets at charging points.

“To be honest, what is happening here has affected us badly, particularly the majority of us, the students that live here. Some of us have lost our phones and chargers because they are trying to charge their phones outside their house. so please, the government should come to our rescue because it’s affecting us even as we are preparing for the semester exams.”. He said.

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Another resident, who spoke anonymously, blamed the EEDC for allegedly being responsible for the breakdown of the transformer due to overloading customers on the street, knowing it wasn’t strong enough to accommodate them.

When contacted by phone, the head of corporate communication at the EEDC, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, did not pick up his calls for reactions, and when our correspondent reached him via WhatsApp, he had yet to send an email at the time of filing the report.

Meanwhile, the stakeholders of the area including the Councilor representing Azugwu/Azumili Ward 6 in Abakaliki local government area, Hon. Emeka Kingsley Ikegwu have heavily condemned the ugly development and warned EDDC to restore power to avoid further breakdown of law and order in the state.

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