Following the incessant activities of laterite dealers around power transmission towers along the Egbin-Ikeja west 330Kv transmission lines, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has commenced moves to bring the act described as economic sabotage to a halt.
At a heated stakeholders forum attended by the Oke-Afa, Magboro communities in Ogun state as well as security agencies ranging from the Nigeria Police to the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to chart a way out of the development, fingers unanimously pointed at members of the Orelape Laterite Dealers Association as well as some leaders of the community as all entreaties for them to attend the meeting proved abortive.
Most residents of the community who spoke at the forum indicated that the TCN has not done enough to forestall future occurrences of such nefarious activities.
According to them most times when the laterite excavators come to carry out their activities they always operate unchallenged and unmolested as previous encounters with them has resulted to very bitter experiences.
They pleaded with the TCN to engage government further so there could be provision of a police post or a base for the Civil Defence not too far from the community, this they believe would throw a scare into the minds of the laterite scavengers.
The Executive Director Transmission service provider of the TCN, Engr. Olushola Akinniranye stated earlier in his speech that it is important for the general public to Note that the electric Power grid system of any nation is its backbone for socio-Economic development, “but when the lines and towers are being threatened by human activities such as conductor vandalism, illegal excavation of laterite around tower, bush burning, erecting of illegal structures and so on, then it calls for some national re-think and prompt collective action in order to speedily reverse the ugly trend with its negative socio-economic consequences when the tower collapses.
According to him the attention of TCN management was drawn to the activities of the Orelape Laterite Dealers Association, along the Egbin-Ikeja West 330Kv Transmission line, despite the concerted efforts of the Nigerian Police to stop them.
“The activities of these men have continued to cause unprecedented damage to the foundation of our transmission towers. It is disheartening to inform you that the foundation of Towers 66-70 have seriously been eroded, and their collapse is imminent if urgent measures are not taken to stop the excavators.
This is why we have convened this meeting to enlighten you on the inherent danger associated with these uncontrolled excavation activities. The financial implications of the works remedies could be better channeled to the development of the grid”
The TCN boss lamented that while it is appreciated that laterite is major source of livelihood to the people around the community, and the company does not in any way intend to deprive them of this source of livelihood.
It should be noted that if the trend continues unchecked the soil holding the towers to the ground will get eroded, towers worth billions of naira will collapse, power supply to many states of the federation will be cut off, lives may also be lost through electrocution, economic activities would be grounded, security of lives and properties in the affected areas would be compromised.
The Ogun state commissioner of police in his reaction noted that all the community leaders and other stakeholders who declined the invitation to attend the meeting should be compelled to attend by the Nigerian Police as that appears the only way they would attend , especially as they all appears to be collaborators in the dastardly act.
He also advised the TCN to step up their corporate social responsibility by executing projects which would directly affect the lives of the inhabitants of the community, as according to him this would make the community see itself as a stakeholder in the protection of the transmission towers and other PHCN properties in their domain.
The commissioner who was represented by SP. Fola Ogunkoya stated that failure of The laterite dealers and their collaborators to comply with any directive or consensus Reached would result to their immediate arrest and prosecution.