Port Harcourt and its environs witnessed total blackout on Saturday, due to the protests by Irate youths in the state.
The Afam youths had been agitated by alleged inability of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) to provide steady electricity at no cost to its host communities.
As a result, they mobilised in their numbers, barricaded the road leading to the power station and stopped the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) workers from accessing the facility on Friday night.
A protester, identified as Kingsley, disclosed that they were protesting against unsteady power supply in their communities.
According to him, their action was prompted by the alleged disconnction of the communities from the national grid due to their failure to pay electricity bills.
In Reaction, Mr John Onyi, PHED Manager of Corporate Communications of PHED confirmed in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
“The Oyibo youths barricaded the transmission station located inside Afam, the main source of power to Port Harcourt.
“This action has been the reason the residents are experiencing power outage,” Onyi said.
He noted that PHED was worried over the frequent shutdown of the Afam facility by youths, and that the development always resulted in huge revenue losses to the company.
“They carried similar action on August 14 by shutting down the same power station, leading to total darkness in Port Harcourt.
“The shutdown at the time prompted a meeting of all the stakeholders, including the Rivers Ministry of Power, to resolve the imbroglio.
“The meeting led to the setting up of a sub-committee with a mandate to find a lasting solution to the matter, and given 10 days to submit its report,” he said.
According to Onyi, the protest is disappointing, especially as the youths reportedly sent representatives to the meeting and were aware of the outcome of the engagement.
He debunked the allegation that the company disconnected the host communities from the power grid and blamed the outage to faulty lines
“Also, we were constrained to deploy such huge resources to a community that has never paid electricity bill for seven years of PHED’s existence in the area.
“Everyone knows that electricity is not free anywhere in the world, and so, such action by the communities makes it difficult for PHED to pay salaries and meet other statutory obligations.
“We seek the intervention of opinion leaders and security agencies to prevail on the youths to vacate the place to enable PHED to distribute power to its customers,” he said.
Recall that PHED had hiked electricity tariff across four states.