The recent hacking down of two more 330kva pylons in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital by Boko Haram insurgents is a devastating blow to the capital as this may mark the beginning of Borno becoming a failed state due to the effects of war.
The restoration of electricity to Maiduguri which was heralded as a big achievement by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) was soon seen as short-lived.
This is because within forty eight hours after the last restoration of electricity, the supplies went off due to a time bomb destruction by Boko Haram. Jakana and Ngamdu are towns which are badly infested by relatives of Boko Haram which is why they will always serve as a shield to the atrocities of these insurgents.
To energy watchers in the town, this is not good at all because all the efforts of the soldiers escorting the workers and giving them cover to complete the previous disruption has been put to naught.
This time around, two pylons were brought down by the use of a time bomb not far from the first blow up in the same Boko Haram infested Jakana about 40km from the state capital.
From reliable sources within the TCN, the state may just say good bye to supply of the scarce economic commodity for the rest of the year because their technicians are tired already of risking their lives against these insurgents who are prepared for death.
But if the state has a plan B outside the national grid, so be it. “These people are terrorists prepared for cheap death based on some strange causes. How many of our people are prepared for cheap death for such a worthless cause as the Boko Haram’s? “And I tell you the way the security guys are handling these national assets, giving the terrorists so much laxity is a big worry to us. And you know how big Borno land territory is when it comes to policing.
“We don’t have what it takes to police the place, because we don’t have the kind of security squad needed to do so.
“But if we are trained, we will because we know where all our towers are with or without spying drones. “In the last attack, we almost lost our lives as our men drove into IEDs planted on the road by the insurgents while going for repairs.
This time around, we don’t know what they will plant on the road but from what we perceive, they will strike down the towers if we repair it. “Except the government is going to have a twenty four hour surveillance plan on all the pylons, I am afraid residents should be prepared to use gen- erators for a long time to survive.
This is because the military do not have even enough soldiers to prosecute the ongoing fight, not to talk about policing the entire pylons in the state,” said our source who craved anonymity.
Before this terrible blow, residents of Maiduguri had been in darkness for about two months without this all important commodity. Just when a sigh of relief was received from the TCN with the restoration of the national grid supplies, Easter or Ramadan with electricity became a mere fantasy as it was soon cut short by the terrorists.
Ramadan is just hours away and many muslim residents who spoke have decided to spend it quietly at home mosques since most of their economic reserves have gone into buying petrol to use generators. For those who have what it takes to afford fuel for generators, like the UN organs, military and the NGO’s, life goes on as usual because work must never stop because there is no electricity in the city.
Investigations found out that the current damage done was a daring one. It’s just about five pylons away from the last “by pass” that was done in jakana to save the sad situation of residents of Maiduguri.
And indeed from the justifiable fears of some of the technical staff, the damage will continue as expected in any war theatre unless the Federal Government is ready to equip the security forces especially the civil defence to patrol and protect these assets accordingly.
“As things are now on the ground, the former vandalised pylons that came down when they were working on the first one are still waiting for attention. “And that means that they have four pylong unattended to if the state capital must be lighted and that will take another six months before full restoration.
“The last bypass process of getting electricity into Maiduguri which needed about a hundred and twenty extra poles was actually done to fast forward the supplies of this economic commodity to the city.
This was done so that electricity can be supplied into the city pending the completion of two other pylons which came down last month while the TCN engineers were putting finishing touches to the job.
“But sadly, now that we have two other pylons being brought down by the Boko haram insurgents, it may take another six months before electricity may be restored into the state capital if we must go according to our normal speed in restoring each pylon to what it should be to carry the weight of electricity it is supposed to carry,” said our source.
•Kayode writes from Abuja