Barely 72 hours after electricity was restored in Maiduguri – for the first time in nearly two months – the city was plunged back into darkness early on Saturday when suspected members of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS) blew up two of the city’s power towers.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) confirmed that two towers along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway had been vandalised.
A company official told AFP that the two towers had been bombed just before 6am on Saturday.
Residents were concerned about the effect of the blackout on their livelihoods and water supplies.
Public affairs analyst Musa Gambo said the government should either post soldiers at the transmission towers for extra security or provide an alternative source of power supply to the city.
When the power was restored on Wednesday last week residents were jubilant. They had not had electricity for nearly two months and they were more than ready to resume work and normal activities. Many businesses had been crippled during the two-month blackout.
Gambo said the attack on Saturday was the third since January and it was severely affecting everyday life for residents.
With the holy month of Ramadan starting on April 13, residents said they were anxious about what lay ahead.
A Keke-Napep (tricycle) driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said the blackouts made life really difficult and the heatwave did not help.
“It’s really hard for us − no chilled drinks or ice. The heat is overwhelming and both fuel and food prices have risen,” he said. “It is a disaster for us to be left without power and our means of living, especially in this hot season when people need ice blocks for cold drinks.”
Alhaji Bunu, a resident in Maiduguri, said that they had celebrated on March 24 when the power was restored because they thought life could eventually go back to normal.
“Then on Saturday we were plunged into darkness again. It is no longer bearable. Women and children are suffering; we are all suffering,” Bunu said, adding that he hoped the government and TCN would restore power as soon as possible.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the attack on Saturday was a disappointment but did not come as a surprise. “We feared that the insurgents would strike again, we just did not know it would be so soon.”