Stand Point

Power Installations: Vandals on prowl in Ilorin


With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson

For about a week, residents of a section of Agba Dam area of Ilorin,  Kwara  State endured blackout owing to theft of their transformer cable. To get electricity restored to the area, each household was levied for the purchase of the stolen electrical installation,  which cost was put at about half a million naira. While the residents were fortunate to raise the needed fund promptly, some other areas with similar case have been thrown into perpetual darkness, as residents were unable to pool money together to replace vandalised cables. A resident of Unity area in the state capital, also related similar experience, but the situation was saved by a popular transport company in the area that paid half of the money required to get new power installation for electricity to be restored. There is also case of an area in Irewolede where transformer cable was vandalised twice and resident had to contribute money on the two occasions for replacement.
Aside the problem of power supply to affected areas,  there are also attendant socio-economic challenges. The socio-economic implication of vandalism is colossal,  such as insecurity as criminals are known to operate under covers of darkness, and adverse effect on economic activities with the blackout paralysing  commercial and industrial activities.
Cable vandalisation to say the least,  has assumed alarming dimension in Ilorin, a police source reliably informed that no fewer than 62 cases of power installations theft has been reported at police stations in recent time,  while there are several other unreported cases.
The situation is more disturbing as no assistance seems to come from the government or the electricity distribution company. A source at the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) said the disco does not have provision for vandalised electricity installations. It is believed  that those destroying and stealing cables could not do so without connivance of technical experts possibly officials  of electricity distribution companies because vandalising  a transformer requires technical know -how beyond the competence of a layman.
It is disheartening that it is happening at a time the people have continued to grapple with persistent power outages and unreliable electricity supply.
There is therefore, the need for practical solutions to the menace. One way out is to identify buyers of these stolen items. If there are no buyers, there will be no sellers. The ugly trend persists because of the existence of ‘market’ for stolen items, hence the need to rout all those who patronise vandals.This could be achieved through involvement of traders’associations. Power installation equipment are not items that are sold everywhere,  thereby it should be easy fishing out those abetting the vandals.
Vandalism, undoubtedly is a cankerworm, which is destroying the power sector, it is  therefore pertinent for government to take serious measures against criminals who are hell-bent on sabotaging effort at achieving steady and improved power supply. It behooves security agencies to apprehend the robbers and bring them to justice. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) should work closely with the power distribution company to ensure adequate protection for these critical assets. The Corps should step up surveillance around electricity installations particularly at sub-stations to stem the tide of vandalism of these power items.
On their part,  host communities should provide assistance, intelligence and information to the security agencies whenever they notice these criminalities. Residents  have to be vigilant by keeping a close eye on equipment within their neighbourhood,  apprehend anybody caught tampering with or removing any item from a power transformer. Similarly, any suspicious movement around power supply transformers, especially at odd hours, should be reported to the nearest police station or IBEDC offices. Resident should see the power installations as a property that should be guarded.  In this regard,  vigilante groups should live up to their responsibility. All hands must be on deck to stop the menace. There is also the need for the electricity distribution company to enlighten the public through the media on the effect of vandalism.
If this trend is allowed to persist residents would continue to expend huge sums of money to replace stolen or repair damaged equipment in order to enjoy power supply.
Towards achieving this end,  the state government can enact a law to specifically criminalise and punish severely persons who engage in power theft and vandalisation.

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