Darkness looms as vandals kill contractors, destroy transmission towers
Cases of vandalism of electricity infrastructure have taken a new turn as vandals kill contractors and destroy six power transmission towers.
Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Limited, disclosing this in a release said most of the projects being embarked upon by the company are under attack.
The agency also disclosed that the saboteurs equally killed vigilante in Rivers, adding that the unrelenting attacks on power infrastructure is leading to inability of Nigerians to access adequate electricity for economic growth and prosperity.
“On September 3, 2022, some miscreants attacked and vandalised the 330kV DC Afam – Onne Transmission Line in Gbake community of Ogoniland, River State. The vandals cut down four Transmission Towers (T19, T20, T21 and T22), dismantled and carted them away.
“Again, on October 10, 2022, the vandals attacked and vandalized two additional towers on the same 330kV DC Afam – Onne Transmission Line.
“During a third attempt, luck, however, ran out on them as efforts of vigilante members, buoyed by security operatives, paid off, resulting in the arrest of nine of the miscreants.
“They have since been charged to court to face the full wrath of the law.
During routine patrol on the night of November 25, 2022, vigilantes again encountered vandals along the same Afam-Onne 330kV DC Transmission Line. The vigilantes called for military reinforcement but before help came, one of the guards was shot and later died,”Executive Director, Corporate Services at NDPHC, Nkechi Mba said in the release.
According to her, the line connecting Afam to Onne in Port Harcourt is the first 330kV Double Circuit Transmission supply line to the capital of Rivers State.
Mba added that persistent attacks on the line have caused substantial damage to the transmission line project and it would take huge sums of money to effect needed reconstruction and repairs in addition to resultant delays on delivery time.
Mba has however, commiserated with the deceased’s immediate and extended families, promising that the company will support them in this moment of grief.
“The company is grateful for his gallantry in the line of duty and we hereby pledge support for his family in this moment of great sorrow”, she stated, while declaring: “We will be relentless in hunting these vandals down, particularly those who assassinated the young man.”
According to her, the necessity of reenforcing the message of communal ownership of critical infrastructure cannot be over emphasised. The infrastructure that governments develop are done with taxpayers’ money and are therefore owned by the people,” she explained.
She appealed to members of the public to regard “public infrastructure as our commonwealth and strive to jointly always protect them.”
Mba expressed gratitude to law enforcement agents for their continuous support in trying to engage and deter economic criminals who vandalise NDPHC assets, saying the company “will ensure that anyone caught vandalising our assets will be made to face severe legal sanctions.”
This is barely a week after the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) disclosed that eight vandals are currently held in Police custody as vandalism has already cost the company over N300 million in replacement loss.
This is coming a few months after indications that the security situation in the country is worsening the balance sheet of some of the distribution firms with resultant liquidity crisis in the power sector.
EEDC had also in a statement, expressed concern over the increased incidences of vandalism of its electrical facilities across the South-East region.
The utility company had admitted that it was disturbed at the latest turn of events where vandals now resort to draining transformer oil, thereby subjecting the transformer to risk of blowing up once supply is restored.
Calling for the support of customers and other critical stakeholders, the organisation a total of eight vandal suspects were arrested for attacking power equipment belonging to EEDC and have been handed over to the Police for proper investigation and possible prosecution.
The Head of Corporate Communications, EEDC, Emeka Ezeh said that within the last quarter of the year, there is no day the company does not record an average of three transformers attacked across its franchise areas, most of which have their oil drained.
“Before now, the vandals have been carting away armored cables and bare conductors, but in recent times, we record more cases of drained transformer oil which poses greater danger to the transformer because it could get damaged when energized without any oil in it.
“Once vandalism happens, our customers are thrown into darkness, homes are affected, and businesses are affected too as losses are recounted amid the inconveniences that lack of electricity supply brings,” Ezeh said.