SMES CLUSTER PROTEST BLACKOUT, ACCUSES DISCO OF RUINING BUSINESSES IN KANO
A cluster of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kano has protested 15 days of total blackout following their disconnection from their power source by Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO).
The SMEs located in the Dakata area of Kano metropolis have accused KEDCO of deliberately cutting off their electricity thereby ruining their businesses with adverse multiplier negative consequences on their lives and that of their employees.
According to Aminu Idris, who spoke on behalf of the SMEs, the unilateral decision by KEDCO has affected thousands of people that rely on their daily wages from working in the largely informal sector of the economy.
Idris further disclosed that they never defaulted on their electricity bill even when the unit price skyrocketed to N79 per unit.
“We’re having problems with KEDCO. We woke up one morning and found that they just cut off our light. They said they were having leakages in their supply so they can’t supply us with light. We said what is the problem? We are paying our bills. But they’re not accusing us of not paying our bill. They deny us light and this is affecting us negatively.
“We have different kinds of SMEs here. Some are producing plastic through recycling plastic waste. We have groundnut oil and rice mills here. We produce Soya cake. We supply Kano with ice because we produce ice blocks. In fact, we supply Dakata with water,”Idris told correspondent.
He noted that thousands of people, particularly youths, are affected because SMEs have to be feeding their employees, which he contended is not sustainable.
“Right now, we’re doing nothing. If you talk about the number of people doing work here, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people earning a living either directly or indirectly in these clusters. Each machine here has at least 25 people working on it directly.”
Idris, who further denied any wrongdoing on their part that led to the sudden blackout from their power supply source, revealed that they are only struggling to survive as the businesses are no longer profitable.
He called on KEDCO to immediately restore their electricity to enable them resume activities in their places of work that have become ghosts of themselves.
Another business owner, Abdurrahman Zakariya, said that due to inflation and other challenges they cannot generate power through alternative sources as all their gain would go for diesel that is costly and prohibitive to them.
He called on the government and all relevant stakeholders to intervene to have their power restored in the interest of not pushing the youths working there into crime and criminality.
He appealed to the power supplier to come and investigate if they suspect any foul play from the SMEs.
“We’re helping keep these young men busy, we took them off the street and we prevent them from becoming criminal gangs. We deserve support. We aren’t asking for a subsidy. We pay for it. We want light back now. This is not about us or our future. It’s about the future of these youths and the state. Because without the light, we have nothing to do. A hungry man is an angry man. We are afraid we cannot continue to pay the youths without working and that may not augur well for the state,” he said.
A Dakata resident, Musa Abdullahi, told correspondent that a jerrican of water now sells for 150 against 20-30 naira due to lack of light in the area, which power boreholes that supply water to the community.
An ice block vendor, Gaddafi Ibrahim, said that “The situation is very terrible. We’re in a very difficult situation. We don’t even know what is actually happening. They should restore the light.”
Meanwhile, Kano Electricity Company (KEDCO) through its spokesman, Sani Bala said the company is carrying out maintenance on the feeders and will be back on track in the next couple of days.
“The reason why we took off some small scale customers is because we are carrying out some maintenance work on the feeder and the work cannot be done with full load, so that’s why we took some small scale customers out but by this weekend the work will commence and they will be brought back.
“We are going to bring back the customers one after another, bit by bit because we have to do a thorough investigation in all the connections to see if they are correct and everything is in order.
“By this weekend hopefully, we should start the work as soon as we are satisfied with the work we were doing.”