25 December 2014, Minna – Niger State Government in partnership with a foreign-based firm is to establish solar energy plant worth N1.6 billion to improve the investment base of the state, particularly the state capital.
The government’s plan to engage the foreign energy firm may not be unconnected with cries over excessive billing without commiserating electricity supply to customers by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
The crazy billing by the AEDC climaxed last week when customers besieged the Kpakungu office and Bosso 2 Business Unit in protest against alleged disconnection of supply on the orders of a staff simply identified as Victoria over what she claimed ‘under payment’.
Some of the customers who spoke to our correspondent had argued that they were not enjoying regular electricity, hence the electricity supply agency should not expect a hundred percent payment for services not rendered.
During an encounter, Victoria was said to have ordered the disconnection of some customers whom, according to her, may have paid bill up to November 2014 but for her to meet financial target by her employers, customers must pay more even at their own detriment.
Already a site for the project has been acquired while the state Governor, Babangida Aliyu, has directed the immediate release of N100 million for the payment of compensation to citizens whose land were acquired for the solar electricity project.
Exchanging views with the representatives of the foreign firm at the Government House, Aliyu solicited the support of the company in finding other organisations that are interested in investing in the state to partner with it for the establishment of similar energy plant in Bida, Kontagora and Suleja towns.
Such a firm should be ready to pay compensations to owners of land to be acquired and also embark on the establishment of the solar plants in the affected areas in addition to managing the project for a specific period of time, the Governor pointed out.
Aliyu, however, noted with regrets that epileptic power supply has hindered industrial growth and development of the state, promising that any organisation that is serious to tackle the challenge will be supported by his administration.
Chief Executive Officer of Solar Investors Plant, Mr. Arjen Pen, had earlier told the Governor that the company was ready and will move to site immediately as soon as compensations are paid to land owners.
Pen, however, added that though his company was ready to move to site the project cannot be completed within the lifespan of the present administration but assured that when completed every homes hospitals and other business concerns, including factories will have uninterrupted power supply, particularly during the daytime.
*Chinwendu Nnadozie – Daily Independent