12 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Enugu – The south east Economic Summit recently held in Enugu has reckoned with the need to resuscitate the Oji River thermal station in order to continue its contribution to the economy of the region.
The town, Oji River in the present Enugu state, situated at about 27 kilometres from Enugu, the state capital, is one town that has contributed to the provision of electricity to the former eastern region, and abundant pure natural spring water to the town and its surrounding. But, it has suffered decay for decades, especially after the civil war.
However, there are now fresh hopes of revamping the abandoned structures at the power station so as to re-establish its socio economic impact in the southeast zone and beyond.
The southeast economic summit that was recently held at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, to champion the cause of transforming the economy of the south east states recalled that the Oji River thermal station once contributed to economic growth of the defunct eastern region, through electrical energy generated from the power station.
The resolution of the summit is that the revitalisation of the Oji thermal station will provide additional source of energy to ginger industrial development of the zone How the states will partner to realise this dream is yet to be fashioned out.
The Oji River thermal power station, since its establishment by the defunct colonial government in Nigeria, had effectively generated power for commercial towns and improved the industrial development of the entire eastern region.
Its operational mode was through the constructed mechanical devices that enhanced intake of water from the fast-flowing Oji River into the plant house that was powered by natural coal from the coal mines in Enugu, to provide the electrical energy.
This was then transmitted to various cities in the former eastern region.
Luckily, there was abundance of coal deposit at Onyeama mine in Enugu then.
The expectation of the southeast zonal elites/leaders that attended the economic summit was that, since the coal deposits are still abundant in Enugu – the coal city, efforts should be geared towards revitalising the thermal power station and the Enugu coal mines, so that they can resume operation in earnest, to rejuvenate the economy of the zone.
The thermal station at present, is partially re-energised by power transmitted from the Kainji Dam to serve the Oji River sub-urban towns, parts of Udi town and Ezeagu local govt areas of Enugu state.
The station had suffered great dilapidation during the civil war. Since then, no state or federal government agency has taken up the challenge to embark on full revitalisation of the thermal station, coupled with the fact that the Enugu coal mining industry gradually ceased to operate.
It remains for the organisers of the southeast summit, who agreed to involve the governors of the states in the zone, and some reputable industrialists from the south east zone – to develop plans of action towards revamping the power station, to önce more, speed up the industrialisation of the zone, through adequate power supply from the famous Oji River.
One thing is clear though: The stakeholders in the region can do this.