There was mild drama at the weekend as the Community Development Chairmen in Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, accused staff of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company of masterminding the vandalism of nine transformers in the area.
Nine out of 62 numbers of 500KV electricity transformers in the area were utterly vandalised recently by hoodlums, with armored cables, feeder pillar units and other electrical equipment on the transformers worth millions, carted away.
The serial vandals, according to PHEDC, are in the habit of removing armoured cables, cannibalising feeder pillars, draining transformer oil and thereby throwing the affected communities including Aleto, Ebubu, Alesa, Eteo, and Alode communities into unnecessary darkness.
Speaking at a meeting between members of the Council and officials of PHEDC, the CDC of Eteo community in Eleme, Mr. Christian Nkewa pointed out that it was only people with good knowledge of electrical works that can vandalise a transformer.
Nkewa explained that a ladder with PHEDC in description suspected to belong to the Distribution company was found at the site of one of the vandalised transformers.
Also speaking, the CDC of Ebubu community in Eleme, Mr. Omumgwe Terry said vandalism occurs due to non-availability of power supply, as people tend to get angry when they have not had power supply for a long time.
Omumgwe argued that if there was power supply on the said transformers, nobody would have been able to touch the transformers.
He, however, charged the Disco to enumerate electricity consumers in each of the communities in order to eliminate shady dealings in the system.
According to him, “The prime suspects in this issue are PHEDC staff because only them understands the nitty-gritty of electricity.
“Then secondly, what was a PHEDC ladder doing at the site of one of the vandalised transformer? The answer is not far-fetched.
“Thirdly, what makes it possible for vandalism to thrive in the absence of power supply. It is easier for people to vandalise a transformer when they have noticed that there has not been power supply to the transformers for a long time because if there was power on it, vandalising it would not have been possible.”
Meanwhile, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company has maintained that the company has zero tolerance for corruption.
The Corporate Communications Manager of the company, Mr. John Onyi, while reacting to the allegations that the company staff was behind the attacks on the transformers, said there was no truth in the allegations.
The company’s spokesman described the activities of the vandals as economic sabotage resulting in denying PHEDC’s customers the opportunity of enjoying efficient and quality service delivery.
Onyi also explained that crime was a thing of the mind and not because of the absence of power supply, and called on the people to protect its facilities in the area.
He called on the relevant authorities in the area to step up vigilance by accosting or reporting anybody with suspicious movement around PHED installations.
According to him, “It is not only our staff that have the technical knowledge of electrical works. Can we count how many universities in Nigeria are churning out graduates of electrical and electronics engineering annually into the system?
“What about the technicians who learnt the job of an electrician as trade, not to talk about those whose business is to reconnect customers illegally when such customers have been disconnected non-payment of bills.
“In California where power does not blink, crime is still going on there. So crime is a thing of the mind and not because there was power supply or not.
“We should all rise up against these few disgruntled persons before they stop our comfort,” Onyi said.