Power crisis: Simawa residents flee homes after enduring two years without electricity

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In an unfortunate turn of events, the residents of Simawa, Ogijo, Likosi, and other areas under Sagamu Local Government have been enduring an extended period of power outage that has lasted for over two years. This prolonged lack of electricity has had a significant impact on the daily lives of community members, who are struggling to cope with the numerous challenges posed by this dire situation.

Since the power supply ceased in Simawa, the communities have been plunged into darkness, making basic amenities such as lighting, refrigeration, and electronic devices inaccessible luxuries. Residents have resorted to alternative means of lighting, such as solar power and daily use of generators. However, these alternatives not only contribute to outdoor air pollution but also impose excessive fuel expenses.

One resident of Shimawa, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared her experience, stating, “Since the birth of my child who is now about two years old, we have not had access to electricity. Charging our phones has become a daily expense for me as a trader. Previously, it cost 50 Naira, but since the removal of fuel subsidies, we now have to pay 200 Naira each day.” She continued, “It seems people are afraid to speak up about the electricity issue again since the last election campaigns promised to fix it. 

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“Unfortunately, nothing has been done since the elections concluded. This power outage has personally affected my business growth. As a fish seller, I should have a freezer to store and preserve my goods, but I am unable to do so. When my goods are left unsold, they often spoil or go bad the following day. It is disheartening that even having a leader in Simawa does not provide us with any assurance of when we will have our power supply restored. We have no idea when we will be out of this blackout.”

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According to another resident of Shimawa, Jay Jay Photo, who claimed to be a former treasurer of the Shimawa Youths Association and currently a sitting member, the power outage in Shimawa is a result of illegal cutting of the cables that supply power from the transformer. He further explained, “The power is linked from Ogijo to Shimawa and other communities under the same supply. When the power became faulty in Ogijo, it affected everywhere. 

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This has been the case for over a year and a half now. Even if the power is fixed, Shimawa will still be in darkness due to the missing cables. Hence, we have been making arrangements for new cables in anticipation of the power restoration. The appalling part is that many residents of Simawa have relocated since the indefinite power outage occurred, and we have also lost some businesses and their owners to other locations. Simawa was known to have stable electricity, attracting outsiders and business owners to migrate here. But since the prolonged power outage, we have lost a lot of them. As it stands now, we have no idea when exactly we will have power again. We plead for the government to come to our aid.”

Benjamin Olaseinde, a business owner in Simawa, claimed that he brought his business to the area two years ago but has never experienced electricity from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He further explained, “Whenever I turn on my generator, it feels like the whole of Simawa is in my shop charging their gadgets. It hinders customers from accessing my goods. I am not the only one facing this issue. The sad part is that there is no valid reason for the power outage. All we hear are assumptions and rumors, and I personally don’t know what the community leaders or the Ogun state government have been doing to address this. It is heartbreaking.”

Additionally, an anonymous resident of Simawa noted that all estates owned by Adron Homes in the area have a constant and unexplainable power supply. She said, “We don’t know how Adron Homes managed to have stable electricity in their estates while the rest of us suffer without power. It is disheartening that the leaders of our community have been silent, presumably influenced by financial gains, leaving the residents to suffer without electricity while the estates enjoy an unknown power source.”

Reverend Taiwo, a resident of Ogijo, highlighted the profound impact of the absence of electricity on local businesses, leading to economic setbacks and reduced productivity. Small-scale enterprises, such as grocery stores and restaurants, have been particularly affected as they struggle to preserve perishable goods and provide adequate services to customers. Furthermore, the lack of power has hindered the development of Ogijo and its vicinity, impeding growth and stifling job opportunities within the community. 

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Reverend Taiwo added, “The prolonged power outage has caused some landlords to sell their houses and relocate. Business owners who struggled to sustain their businesses within the first few months of the blackout eventually had to close down. Thankfully, there is renewed hope for us as the community leaders have decided to establish a new power supply connection with Lagos state, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC). The process has already begun from Ita Oluwo since all residents were asked to pay the sum of five thousand naira (₦5,000) per building at the middle of 2022, and we will no longer be connected to the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) because the Ogun state government has proven to be irresponsible in finding a solution to this long-lasting problem. The last update we got was that by the next few months, our light will be restored” 

Reverend Taiwo further disclosed, “We have a two-month deadline remaining out of the three-month ultimatum promised to us to get out of this blackout. Although we have been disappointed in the past with empty promises regarding this electricity issue, I believe this time it will yield results as the power supply is being routed from the Ita Oluwo area of Lagos state.”

The residents of these communities have expressed their frustration and disappointment with the prolonged power outage. They have made numerous appeals to local authorities and power supply companies, demanding immediate action and resolution to the crisis. Unfortunately, their pleas have largely been ignored, leaving them feeling neglected and abandoned.

Mrs. Soneye, a resident and business owner in Likosi, voiced her frustration with the ongoing power outage in her community. She stated that since her family moved to Likosi in 2021, they have only experienced two months of electricity supply before it turned into a total blackout. This lack of power has caused her freezer to spoil and the wiring in her house to be destroyed by rats. Furthermore, the community has been plagued by the theft of electric wires by unknown individuals who take advantage of the power outage to steal and sell them elsewhere. Mrs. Soneye deeply regrets moving into this environment.

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She also shared her brother-in-law’s experience, who had to take his children back to Lagos from Ipa along Simawa due to the psychological impact of the blackout. It is important to note that Erefun, Soso, Jigaye, Agbowa, and other areas are all under Sagamu Local Government in Ogun State. Despite this, the government has failed its people by not providing essential amenities such as electricity.

However, when the IBEDC customer service department was contacted, it was revealed that a similar report regarding the indefinite power outage had been filed sometime in February 2023 and that the top management was aware of the issue and had been working on it since then. The IBEDC customer service representative further explained that their efforts had not yielded any results in restoring the power supply to Ogijo and its environs, hence the top management had initiated an ongoing project to ensure that power would be restored, but did not know how long it would take. They promised to follow up on the matter and apologized for the inconveniences, saying that they did not want to lose their customers to IKEDC as they valued their customers highly.

Given the predicament faced by the community, it is crucial for the relevant authorities to take immediate action to address this issue. Urgent measures should be implemented to restore power supply and alleviate the hardships faced by the residents. Additionally, long-term solutions need to be devised to ensure a reliable and sustainable power infrastructure, preventing such prolonged outages from occurring in the future.

As the communities of Simawa, Ogijo, Jigaye, Agbowa, Soso, Likosi, Erefun, Ipa, and others under Sagamu Local Government continue to endure this prolonged power outage, their resilience and determination shine through. It is our hope that their voices will be heard, and the necessary steps will be taken to restore their access to a basic necessity – electricity.

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