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Total Blackout: Striking Unionists Shuts National Grid, Beats Workers


The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has confirmed a nationwide blackout occasioned by the current nationwide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates.

The TCN transmits bulk electricity from Power Generating Companies (GenCos) to Distribution Load Centres of Distribution Companies (DisCOs) nationwide.

A statement issued by Ndidi Mbah, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the TCN, said the blackout followed what it described as “the deliberate shutdown of the national grid by the Labour Union.”

According to the statement, the blackout commenced at approximately 2:19 am on June 3rd, 2024.

The shutdown was allegedly instigated by a series of aggressive actions orchestrated by the Labour Union activists overnight.

The statement said reports from the Benin Transmission Operator, a division under TCN’s Independent System Operations unit, described a “scene of chaos and intimidation in the early hours of the morning.”

The Benin Area Control Center was brought to a standstill, setting off a chain reaction of shutdowns across multiple transmission substations.

The statement adds, “At about 1:15 am this morning, the Benin Transmission Operator under the Independent System Operations unit of TCN reported that all operators were driven away from the control room and that staff that resisted were beaten while some were wounded in the course of forcing them out of the control room.

“Without any form of control or supervision, the Benin Area Control Center was brought to zero.”

The impact of the shutdown rippled throughout the country, with Ganmo, Benin, Ayede, Olorunsogo, Akangba, and Osogbo Transmission Substations all falling victim to the Labour Union’s actions.

In addition to forcibly shutting down substations, transmission lines were tampered with, exacerbating Nigeria’s already strained electricity situation.

The disruption extended beyond transmission infrastructure to power-generating units across different stations.

The statement adds that the Jebba Generating Station, one unit was compelled to shut down, followed by the shutdown of three others due to exceedingly high frequency.

These forced load cuts triggered instability within the system, culminating in the complete shutdown of the national grid.

Officials of the TCN at the Shiroro Substation reportedly attempted to feed the transmission lines supplying bulk electricity to the Katampe Transmission Substation.

However, their progress was allegedly impeded by the unionists.

In response to the crisis, TCN has pledged to persevere in its efforts to recover and stabilize the grid, emphasizing the priority of restoring normal bulk transmission of electricity to distribution load centres nationwide.

“The situation is such that the labour Union is still obstructing grid recovery nationwide. We will continue to make effort to recover and stabilize the grid to enable the restoration of normal bulk transmission of electricity to distribution load centres nationwide,” Mbah said.

The nationwide blackout comes at a time of heightened tension and frustration among Nigerians, who are already grappling with persistent electricity shortages and the detrimental impacts on daily life.

Earlier on Monday, workers had commenced a nationwide strike, leading to widespread disruptions in transportation services, including significant delays and cancellations at major airports.

The unions said the strike was a response to the Federal Government’s refusal to agree to a new national minimum wage and other demands.

The Nigerian Union of Railway Workers (NURW) formally notified the Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) in a letter dated June 1, 2024

The NLC said its demands were rooted in the economic hardship faced by workers, with the current minimum wage set at N33,000 per month, which many argue is insufficient in the face of rising living costs. The NLC had canvassed for a N615,000 monthly minimum wage, which the government negotiators had described as unfeasible.

The union has been vocal about the government’s ability to fund wage increases, citing the purchase of expensive SUVs for lawmakers as a sign of misplaced priorities.

In a statement, the NLC declared, “Victory comes by Struggle, A Living Wage is Possible. Strike Action Goes on, A living wage is Possible. 

“We don’t have the right to call off the industrial action approved by our Organs. Thus, the action will continue while we will have a meeting with our organs to relate to them your proposals.”

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