Gnami: A com­mu­nity’s story of ‘un­in­ter­rupted’ power sup­ply

Daily Trust - - DIGEST - By Taiwo Adeniyi, Nana Ya­haya, Pe­bang Dan­ladi & To­biloba Ko­la­wole

Gnami in Ka­garko Lo­cal Govern­ment Area and Pakau, a neigh­bour­ing com­mu­nity came to the lime­light when the Fed­eral Min­istry of Power Works and Hous­ing an­nounced they have been en­joy­ing un­in­ter­rupted elec­tric­ity for two years. This is a rare feat in a coun­try be­dev­illed by epilep­tic power sup­ply.

Gnami is lo­cated on the Bwar­iJere ex­press­way. This mile­stone was achieved through the flag­ship so­lar power project by Huawei in part­ner­ship with the Min­istry of Power.

The power min­istry said the so­lar power gen­er­a­tion sys­tem in Gnami with a dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem, house in­stal­la­tion sys­tems, street lights and me­ter­ing sys­tem, sup­plied un­in­ter­rupted elec­tric­ity to the com­mu­nity for two years, a po­si­tion Gnami res­i­dents cor­rob­o­rated.

The res­i­dents said 100 houses were con­nected to the 40 kilo­watts so­lar pho­to­voltaic mini-grid and were only per­mit­ted to use four en­ergy sav­ing bulbs, one fan, a tele­vi­sion set and an elec­tric socket.

They paid N300 monthly to main­tain the so­lar panel and the se­cu­rity guards em­ployed at the mini grid.

The Huawei Off-Grid So­lar Power Plant project in part­ner­ship with the Fed­eral Min­istry of Power was com­mis­sioned in the com­mu­nity in 2014. Since then blackout be­came a thing of the past but for only 100 of the over 900 house­holds, the com­mu­nity head, Ibrahim Yer­ima, said.

The so­lar power is the only source of elec­tric­ity in the com­mu­nity with 100 so­lar pan­els in­stalled at the mini grid for the 100 houses un­der the scheme. All the houses are con­nected to bat­ter­ies kept within the shel­ter pro­vided for the pan­els.

They also said that the 10 street lights erected from the com­mu­nity’s en­trance to the chief ’s res­i­dence have helped in ad­dress­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the com­mu­nity.

A res­i­dent, John Alfa Dogo said they would have loved to use other elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances es­pe­cially for their busi­nesses.

He said the con­nec­tion was also not trans­ferrable be­cause the con­trac­tors wired all the houses to use only ap­proved ap­pli­ances. He said it was not pos­si­ble to add ex­tra bulbs or use more sock­ets adding that should any res­i­dent want to move to an­other house, the elec­tri­cal in­stal­la­tions are ir­re­mov­able.

He said the sit­u­a­tion has forced some ten­ants to re­main in their apart­ments while elec­tric­ity con­nec­tion tops res­i­dents’ con­sid­er­a­tion while look­ing for ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“If you want to move to a big­ger house, you will have to leave the in­stal­la­tions be­hind. It is not even pos­si­ble if you’re re­lo­cat­ing to a dif­fer­ent room in the same build­ing,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to the lim­ited elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances, res­i­dents es­pe­cially small scale busi­nesses rely on gen­er­a­tors to power their re­frig­er­a­tors and other elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.

De­spite the chal­lenges, Yer­ima said the elec­tric­ity sup­ply ar­range­ment has helped res­i­dents as they can now charge their phones and even watch news.

He said the com­mu­nity would be wrong should they re­ject the project due to the few houses con­nected. “If we re­ject sup­ply to only 100 houses and de­mand that they con­nect the whole vil­lage, it will look like govern­ment gave us some­thing and we re­jected it. At least we are charg­ing our hand­sets freely,” he said in Pid­gin English.

He con­tin­ued, “Ev­ery day we get light un­less when the weather is dull. If it rains from morn­ing till evening, the light will go off. But if the weather is bright we don’t have any prob­lem.”

He said elec­tric­ity sup­ply would also be af­fected should any of the users plug en­ergy sap­ping ap­pli­ances like two tele­vi­sion sets, re­frig­er­a­tors or press­ing irons.

And in cur­tail­ing th­ese in­ci­dences, a com­mit­tee was con­sti­tuted to en­force com­pli­ance. The com­mit­tee mem­bers dis­con­nect first of­fend­ers for one month and per­ma­nently re­moved any­body that con­tra­vened the di­rec­tive more than three times.

One of those per­ma­nently dis­con­nected was Abio­dun Ade­goke whom Dogo said had abused the op­por­tu­nity craved by oth­ers.

Res­i­dents like Ade­goke were usu­ally forced to re­turn to gen­er­a­tors or rely on other con­nected houses in charg­ing their hand­sets.

Tanko Yer­ima, an­other res­i­dent said the power project had been work­ing well in the com­mu­nity. He said the ac­tiv­i­ties of res­i­dents such as Ade­goke put other users at risk.

“If some­one uses a press­ing iron or other pro­hib­ited ap­pli­ances, the light would shut down and won’t be re­stored un­til the per­son was dis­con­nected,” he said.

Tanko, how­ever ap­pealed to the govern­ment to up­grade the project to en­able them use other elec­tri­cal

ap­pli­ances and more bulbs even as he ap­pealed for more house­holds to be con­nected.

How­ever, some res­i­dents have ex­pressed con­cern that the project does not cover all the houses in the com­mu­nity.

A res­i­dent, Emeka Chukwu, said the street lights have not been switched on for a very long time, adding that only 100 res­i­dents are con­nected to the grid.

“This one no be light. Light that can’t carry fridge and press­ing iron but only fan. The street light no work again since,” he said in Pid­gin English.

Chukwu, who owns a mo­tor­cy­cle spare parts busi­ness in the com­mu­nity, said most busi­nesses are not con­nected to the grid.

“This is not my town and no be this light carry me come here,” he said adding that he barely both­ered him­self with the elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

Chukwu who has only a bulb in his shop, said he took the sit­u­a­tion in good faith adding that the house he lived in was not con­nected and peo­ple still re­lied on gen­er­a­tors.

The com­mu­nity head, Ibrahim Yer­ima, said the frus­tra­tion of ag­grieved res­i­dents like Chukwu is un­der­stand­able.

“They are feel­ing bad, they are not happy and we are sym­pa­this­ing with them,” he said.

On how he man­aged the sit­u­a­tion, he said, “Our com­mu­nity is peace­ful and we are very un­der­stand­ing and that has helped.”

He how­ever said the street lights are in work­ing con­di­tion but are usu­ally switched off be­cause they con­sume much en­ergy, adding that when­ever the street lights were switched on, res­i­dents are told to re­duce their en­ergy con­sump­tion.

The street lights are pro­grammed to switch on au­to­mat­i­cally and the res­i­dents are re­quired to con­serve en­ergy es­pe­cially dur­ing rainy sea­son, he said.

De­spite the re­duc­tion in the need for gen­er­a­tors, at least in the 100 houses, they are still faced with some chal­lenges prin­ci­pal among which is their in­abil­ity to use some elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.

Yer­ima said each house­hold was only al­lowed to use one tele­vi­sion set, four bulbs and an elec­tric fan.

Photo Taiwo Adeniyi

Vis­i­tors to the com­mu­nity are greeted with street­lights

The so­lar panel bed in the com­mu­nity

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