GENERATOR POWER: A SUBSTITUTE FOR PHCN POWER?
Gone were the days when the National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, (now known as Power holding Company of Nigeria or PHCN) generated and distributed sufficient electric power to the entire country. In those days, if power interruption became inevitable, NEPA had the courtesy of giving a notice and apology in advance. When it was time to return it to the customer, people had no business celebrating it as is the case today because of the promptness.
Electricity is a major infrastructure of modern society which man cannot do without. But in modern- day Nigeria, human existence is now without this important commodity largely taken for granted in other places. PHCN has continued to fail in its avowed duty of providing electricity to Nigerians while the authorities appear overwhelmed and incapable of salvaging the situation. The shift now is towards generating sets.
Since Nigerians resorted to the use of generators owing to PHCN’s dismal performance, cases of fume related deaths in homes have become common.
A fall out of PHCN’s inactivity is that virtually every home, office or industry buzzes with the irritating sound of a generator now and then. Since modern homes, offices, factories and allied establishments cannot do without electricity, there must be a way out: the generator. It therefore becomes inevitable in a situation hundreds of assorted generators are functioning at the same time; massive amounts of injurious gases are continuously pumped into atmosphere. What about the noise jointly created? This continuously fouls the air, assaulting the psyche of whoever is in the neighbourhood. Scientists have raised alarm severally on the implications of fouling the environment with these gases. The Implications of this on human health have also been explained by experts.
Nigerians have imbibed the habit of storing petrol at homes, offices and any other available place. This is to ensure that their generators can run round the clock since public power supply is now most unreliable. But because of volatile and explosive nature of fuel, coupled with the carelessness of most people, it has not been easy for the average Nigerian household to handle it safely. This has resulted in several cases of fire outbreak in homes, offices, factories and so on. Emission of fumes into the air has been described as one sure way of depleting the amount of oxygen for man and other living creatures. Climate change being experienced today is also attributable to this factor. Desert encroachment, depletion of the ozone layer, change in rainfall pattern, erosion, landslides and even quakes have variously been linked to the amount of toxic substances man is continuously belching into the atmosphere.
The increasing non-performance by PHCN has left a yawning gap in power supply which dealers in generators are feverishly filling.
There are now more dealers in assorted brands of generators. People buy according to their purchasing power. The smallest type is the ‘Tiger’ brand popularly known as ‘I Pass My Neighbour’. Most average homes prefer this today owing to its portability and affordable cost. This small size generator is used by most people either for business or pleasure since it is affordable. So, as the joke goes, each household that owns it will have the opportunity of the neighbours who cannot afford one. Because of the spread of generator usage in most places today, especially at night, there is an illusion of PHCN providing electricity. This illusion, however, fizzles out when one gets closer to hear the noise jointly generated by the machines.
Many homes have found respite from heat that causes one illness or the other. Light is now available for domestic use especially at night. In these days of frequent arm robbery, generators, in absence of PHCN light, can illuminate homes and keep the hoodlums at bay. There are many artisans, commercial and medium businesses today who depend on generator for businesses to survive. This is despite the cost of maintenance, spare parts, etc.
However, the use of generators has a lot of disadvantages for the people. It also has a lot of negative influences on the environment. Apart from injurious gases constantly pumped into the air, there is the issue of noise pollution. Perhaps, experts have yet to study and evaluate the level of deafness this has caused among Nigerians in order to get a clearer picture of the disaster involved. Secondly, carbon monoxide, the exhaust fume the machines generate as waste product has been reported to be responsible for the death of some Nigerians.
By Olufunke Osindele