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Electricity to be restored in Maiduguri, weeks after jihadist attack

Young boys work on a generators at a workshop in the Bulabulin area of Maiduguri. Residents have been struggling with a power blackout since jihadists blew up supply lines.   -  
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AUDU MARTE/AFP or licensors


Engineers from the Transmission Company of Nigeria work tirelessly to restore electricity to the northeastern city of Maiduguri after it was attacked by jihadi fighters in late January.

Since militants of the Islamic State in the West African Province blew up a power grid on Janurary 26, residents of the Borno State capital have been plunged into darkness.

This is the third attack in less than a month on supply lines.

With motorised boreholes relying on electric power to operate, business and daily life have been severly disrupted in Maiduguri.

Bukar Musa, a welder, has seen his business crippled by the power outage, forcing him to look for menial jobs to feed his wife and three children.

"It has been a whole week without a light in the city which has grounded my welding job," the 27-year-old told AFP. "I have now turned to a labourer, assisting a bricklayer for a fraction of what I make as a welder, which is inadequate to feed my family," Musa said.

He would usually earn the equivalent of around $6.60 per day at his workshop.

Now, though, he makes around $4 working on building sites, spending a good part of the daily wage on medication for body pains from the labour, he said.

Grema Umar's ice-block vending business has also crumbled, forcing him to contemplate begging to feed himself.

"I have nothing left, even if power is restored I will have to raise another capital and I don't know how," Umar said.

Water shortages

Even water has become scarce in the city. Many households have shut down their boreholes which supply them and their neighbours due to the high cost of diesel to power them, several residents said.

Long queues have appeared at the few boreholes supplying water, as residents line up with pails and jerry cans.

"The major problem is water scarcity which has hit the city, making it expensive," said Hajara Abdulkarim.

The price of a 25-litre (6.6-gallon) jerry can of water has more than tripled, to 25 naira up from seven naira previously, said Abdulkarim, a mother of five.

Maiduguri is also home to several internally displaced persons (IDP) camps for people forced to flee their homes by military operations against the jihadists.

For now, the outage has not affected the camps, which are lit by solar power installed by charities.

The power company said in a statement that it was working "to fix the faulty line and transmit bulk power to our network for onward distribution to end-users."

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