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General News of Sunday, 15 February 2015

Source: The Post Newspaper

ENEO complains of ‘acute electricity shortage', resurrects power cuts

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Authorities of Cameroon’s Electricity Utility Company, ENEO, have just announced that due to ‘acute electricity shortage’, they have been “obliged” to start rationing supply.

The decision went into effect on February 3 and has seen well over 20 localities within the Southwest and Littoral Regions that are going for, at least, three hours a day without electricity.

The towns of Bafang, Melong, Nkongsamba, right through to Loum, Mbanga, Bekoko to Bonaberi and to Bepanda, Bonamatoumbe, are among those which have been affected in the Littoral Region. Tiko, Mutengene, Ombe, Mile Four, Limbe and parts of Kumba and parts of Buea, are among those that have been selected for the new electricity rationing programme by ENEO.

According to a release by the Regional Manager for the Southern Interconnected Grid, Boniface Kohla, aired by a local radio station in Limbe, the power cuts are meant to “better help customers to better organise their personal and professional activities.”

The release, however, does not state the real reason for the electricity drop except that Kohla is exhorting the public to turn off “lights in unoccupied rooms… and disconnect all unnecessary appliances.” By doing so, he holds, it will “contribute to reducing power cuts.”

The release has not stated for how long this power shortage problem will last. On February 10, Limbe suffered power outage from mid-day till about 4.00 pm. Hence, the load-shedding that was the panacea that the then SONEL and later AES-SONEL used as a way out of electricity shortage has returned.

This was the consequent of prolonged dry seasons in the early 2000s that caused a sharp drop in the water levels at the Edea and Songloulou dams, which are the main source of electricity within the Southern electricity supply grid that covers the Littoral, Southwest, Centre, West and the Northwest regions.

In an effort to salvage the situation, AES-SONEL, which had bought over SONEL, invested in thermal power generating plants. This saw the construction of the Limbe Power Plant. The plant that was completed sometime in 2005 had a power supply capacity of 80MW of electricity. The addition of this amount of energy to the 650MW produced from Songloulou and Edea, finally led to the end of load shedding.

When The Post on February 10, inquired from a source privy to information on the state of the functioning of the Limbe power plant, the source said the plant was ok. As to what has suddenly prompted ENEO to resort to this archaic option of salvaging power shortages, is what many Cameroonians have been wondering about.

Some have even decried the fact that, besides the frequent power cuts that ENEO has come and resurrected, the billings for their consumption have suddenly shotup. The load shedding programme touches on Bonaberi in Douala and Ombe in the Southwest, where most goods transformation factories are located.

This situation compromises the Head of State’s talk of an emergency development drive. The epileptic manner in which ENEO has opted to dish light to Cameroonians will surely work contrarily to Biya’s new plans of a three-year emergency solution to Cameroon’s development needs.

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