Fire outbreak on Thursday afternoon razed a power substation belonging to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDCO), in Akwa Ibom state.
The fire, which engulfed the substation, located at Afaha Ube Itam, Itu Local Government Area, along Ikot Ekpene Road, continued to blaze unabated for over an hour before respite could come from a fire fighting van belonging to Julius Berger Construction Company.
Speaking with journalists who thronged the substation to ascertain the extent of damage, the company’s General Manager in charge of transmission, Mr Solomon Uyouko, said he could not readily ascertain the cause of the fire outbreak as the station had no threat of danger in recent past.
Uyouko, who declined giving any account of what led to the fire outbreak and the financial implication of damage so far recorded, said he was called to the scene from a meeting.
“You need to ask an eye witnesses here about how long the station has been burning. I was not around; I was called up from a meeting to rush down here. I cannot tell you the extent of damage because we are yet to ascertain it,” he said.
Asked if the burnt transformer was truly supplied a month ago as rumoured by members of the community hosting the substation, Uyouyo said he could not disclose information as sensitive as that till he was sure of the motive of media men interacting with him.
An eyewitness, Mr Dickson Akpan, who spoke with newsmen at the scene said efforts to put off the fire, which started since 1pm was made by the community youths as calls to the state’s fire service yielded no fruit.
“Many of us took risk; we bought detergent, mixed with water and tried to quench the fire. We were able to reduce the flame to some extent as we kept calling the Akwa Ibom State Fire Service. As you can see, they are yet to arrive till now. Respite later came through Julius Berger that brought their fire fighting truck to quench the fire.
“We are already having issues of 80 percent blackout in this state and I am afraid that this would furnish PHEDCO with a better license to put the entire state in total darkness, while still disturbing people for bills for services not rendered,” he said.