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Monday, December 4, 2006

Ignorance is not bliss

The Homerton Hospital and several thousand homes in Hackney are suffering a serious power cut today.
It started in the early hours.
The hospital is relying on its emergency generator... their spokeswoman told us they desperatly need to get the power back on.

I find it interesting that as at the time of my writing, none of the main stream media (BBC or Sky) are talking about this little issue, a blackout in London, which has been on for the last 7 hours now. It was the first thing I heard on the radio when I woke up this morning (I am addicted to LBC 97.3), and it is from them I heard it.

Now, the objective of this post is not to laugh at the British about a power cut, which is a rare enough event around here, but to use this incident to point out one of the failings in Nigerian society.

According to the LBC reporter who is covering the issue, the utility company responsible have been working feverishly to ensure the return of power. On another front, they are preparing themselves for the barrage of lawsuits that would surely follow as a result of blackout. There will definitely be clamour for compensation as a result of lost business, emotional trauma, loss of heating, and a lot of other things associated with lack of electricity in the 21st century.

Compare this to Naija.

NEPA (PHCN nowadays) will off the switch, no one will cough. Even when someone does cough and goes to the nearest NEPA office to make a complaint (maybe after a week of no power), the kind of treatment he would get would be rude at best, and it may take NEPA officials another 3 weeks to come and even look at the problem. And that is if you are lucky. If you are not, the neighbourhood would have to raise funds to either bribe NEPA, or find a good electrician to 'tap' into another area's power supply. The result of that would be extra load on Area B's power, and both neighbourhoods will suffer.

When NEPA finally turn on the light, you hear great whoops of 'Up NEPA!'.

Wich kain lyf bi dis?

Nigerians are on the average (and that includes the 'educated' people) too ignorant (or too scared, or too selfish) to realise that electricity is our right! You can sue NEPA for not doing their job, just as you can sue someone for defrauding you. Giving you a power bill once a month when they don't provide satisfactory power is tantamount to fraud. All it would probably take is one successful lawsuit, and NEPA will sit up. Problem is that the length (and cost) of a lawsuit makes that option quite unpalatable.

The announcement just came over the radio, the lights are back on.


Anonymous said...

Hey Chxtab,
I read your blog and you postings on Lagos blog and i really liked it.
Electricity failure in the western world is a breaking news while in Afrika it's a common sight.
keep on writing.


Anonymous said...

Nice one Chxtab on the power failure in Uk.Back home it's common sight and we're so down to fight for our right.
In the western it's a breaking news when powers fails and compensation are been payed.Thanks for the enlightement.


Anonymous said...

I beg you Chxtab cos you live in a civilised world doesn't mean that you've not faced this prblems in Afrika.
All we need is enlightment and teachings to put Afrika back on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Africa willdefinetely wake up some from it's slumber and corrects it's wrongs and shortcomings.
Lookin forward to reading from you again.

Nigeria millionaires said...

Nice one but such voices will be appreciated back home.We need people who are vocal to stand up the government over thier shortcomings.

Donzman said...

The problem with NEPA is serious, we have coal in Nigeria and I don't get why we don't use it for electricity generation. Most of U.S.' energy supply comes from coal. I believe we need to deregulate the industry and make it more accessible for private firms. It's going to be just like the telephone sector, either NEPA shapes up or they shape out just like NITEL. We can't keep up with the inefficiencies, infact I'm sure most Nigerians will be willing to pay a little bit more for constant power supply.

Look at how good the communication sector is and we can do the same thing with electricity. Indigenous private firms can handle this without a doubt. Maybe different power plants for different states or something of that nature.