The Aba Power Project, a member of Geometric Power group, has taken the bull by the horn with a public campaign against pipeline and infrastructure vandals, as well as potential oil thieves.
Billed for commissioning in August 2022, the Aba Power Project is situated at the Osisioma Industrial Area, near Aba, Abia state.
With the entire required support infrastructure already in place, including the 17 kilometer pipeline through which gas would be conveyed from Owaza in Ukwa West Council to the plant, the project is an easy target in the reigning regime of pipeline and infrastructure vandals and oil thieves.
Managing director of the company, Mr. Patrick Umeh, the campaign is being mounted against those who steal critical components in distribution transformers, pipeline breakers, oil thieves, distribution infrastructure and illegal connections as well as those who engage in meter bypassing.
“It is difficult to understand how some individuals are so unconscionable as to put industries, whole estates, villages and other neighbourhoods in darkness by stealing wires to make spoons and trinkets”, Umeh said in a statement in Aba.
Umeh, a former commissioner with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said in Nigeria, “individuals willfully damage such critical public assets, only to turn round to blame the authorities for not providing basic infrastructure like electricity and for growing misery in the land,” he said.
Describing the oil sector infrastructure vandals as the nation’s worst economic saboteurs, Umeh wondered why some educated and prosperous Nigerians indulge in meter bypassing through which they pay next to nothing or nothing at all for electricity service they enjoy.
He asked rhetorically: “If people don’t pay for service provided by private electricity firms, how can they remain in business when they conduct businesses in dollar transactions?”
He promised that the campaign against electricity thieves and vandals will be relentless and holistic.
“We have been holding dialogues on this extremely dangerous phenomenon with stakeholders like the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Leather Manufacturers Association, Aba Industrialists Association, Joint Action Group on Electricity, Electrical Contractors of Nigeria, community leaders, vigilante group members, security agencies and other committed stakeholders.
“Time was when the power electric sector was owned and operated by state utilities like National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which led some Nigerians to still think that electricity is no person’s business; government business is often considered no person’s business.
“But the Aba Power Project is a $600million business by a few Igbo individuals led by Professor Bart Nnaji, a former power minister and world-class engineering professor who returned from the United States to dedicate his life to a revolution in Nigeria’s power sector.
“These Igbo persons want to develop their homeland, starting with Aba for the simple fact that Aba has over the decades been famous for indigenous manufacturing, commerce and innovation.
“The Aba Power Project is an eloquent demonstration of the Igbo concepts of Aku ruo ulo (that is to say that wealth or success has no meaning until it touches one’s people in a positive and practical way) and nke a bu nke anyi (meaning this is truly ours).
“It is unfathomable that a handful of electricity consumers are willfully undermining a hugely expensive project designed to change in a profound way the development landscape of the Southeast and beyond?”
The Aba Power Project boss promised an undisclosed wholesome reward and recognition for any person who provides useful information which will lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of any person sabotaging the service of the private electric utility.
Last February, when Governor Victor Ikpeazu visited the project, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, Prof. Barth Nnaji, assured that project would commence operations in six months time.
Nnaji said the Aba the site to inspect facilities of the project, adding that it has capacity to provide steady power to Aba and its environs.
Nnaji told the governor that currently, Aba gets a maximum of 50 megawatts of power from the national grid, but that the Geometric Plant has capacity to produce 140 megawatts of electricity, which he stated, was enough to provide steady power to Aba and its environs.