Subsidy removal: Generator repairers, dealers in S’East groan under low patronage – NAN Survey

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South East

Dealers in the spare parts of gasoline generators and roadside repairers in the South-East say the petroleum subsidy removal has taken a big toll on their businesses.

A cross-section of the people said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the zone that the development adversely affected patronage and their daily incomes.

NAN reports that President Bola Tinubu announced the subsidy removal in his inaugural address on May 29.

A NAN survey in the South-East shows that the policy has unleashed unfavourable business atmosphere and hardship for generator spare parts dealers and repairers.

A repairer at Ossah Road, Umuahia, Mr Ifeanyi Okoye, said that the hike in the price of fuel had direct effect on his job.

Okoye said: “Before the subsidy removal, I used to fix between three and four generators daily but now I only manage to do one.

“Also, customers now bring their generators for repair with empty tanks.

“Now, I have over 80 tanks in.my shop without fuel, because people can no longer afford fuel, which sales for about N600 per litre.”

Another repairer, Mr Jude Okenwa, said that his customers hardly come again for repairs.

He said that since the subsidy removal, he hardly made substantial income to take care of his family.

“Before the subsidy removal I was going home with about N10,000 and N15,000 daily, but now I hardly make up to N3000.

“If the situation continues to the end of the year, I may be forced to change my business in order to make ends meet,” Okenwa said.

A spare parts dealer on Uzuakoli Road, Umuahia, Mr Innocent Okezuo, regretted that his daily sales had dwindled significantly in the past three months.

“Now, I stay up to two weeks before I sell one generator, unlike before.

“I have been into generator business for the past 25 years but I can tell you that the past three months have been most challenging to me,” Okezuo said.

He further said that people now resort to fixing gas carburetors in their generators in order to use diesel as a cheaper alternative to petrol.

According to him, generator business is no longer lucrative and this is making me to consider going into another business.

He urged the Federal Government to reverse its policy, saying that the subsidy removal had made life unbearable for the people.

Some of the residents said that they no longer use their generators at home because of the high cost of fuel.

“I have not used my generator in the last two months because I cannot afford to buy fuel at N610 per litre.

“I now depend on public power source, although supply has remained characteristically epileptic,” Mr Chibuzor Ugwu, a resident said.

In Enugu, the story remains the same as residents complained that the subsidy removal “is fast forcing generator repairers out of business.”

A generator repairer on Kenneth Street, Achara Layout, Enugu, Mr Obinna Madumere, said that for the past two months, patronage had been on a steady decline.

Madumere said that before the subsidy removal, he was getting at least 10 customers with different repair issues on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately, with the subsidy removal and attendant petrol price hike, we hardly get two customers daily.

“It is getting difficult to cope with the prevailing hardship with barely few customers to sustain me.

“The situation is affecting my family because it is now difficult to meet our daily needs,” Madumere said.

He appealed to the government “to retool us, by sponsoring us to learn about CNG-powered generators as the country heads toward that direction.

Another repairer on Agbani Road, Enugu, Mr Okechukwu Chukwu,  said that the generators he fixed long ago had literally been abandoned in his shop by their owners.

Chukwu said that the failure by the owners to come and take back their generators showed that they no longer had need for them.

He blamed the development on the “large-scale hardship”, saying that people now struggle to meet their  immediate household needs.

He opined that in today’s scale of preference, the need for generator is hardly considered important in the family.

“We appeal to the government to remember us in its palliative distribution because we, the generator repairers, are going through hard times.

“Government should consider retraining and equipping us for the CNG-powered generating sets,”  Chukwu said.

Also, Izunna Onyebuchi, who recently completed his apprenticeship in generator repair, said that he was already frustrated and thinking of another line of business.

Onyebuchi regretted that for two months running,  it had not been easy coping with the current reality.

“As a young man, I do not think I will continue with the trade because I can see that it is no longer viable,” he said.

Mr Arinze Nwude, whose shop is located in Camp area of Enugu, said that he was making
between N10,000 and N12,000 daily but presently does not make more than N3,000 daily.

“As a family man, what can N3,000 afford for us, when prices of things in the market have trippled?

“We need palliative measures to sustain our line of business too.

“I do not blame customers because it is after one has provided food on the table that he begins to talk about generator,” Nwude said

A resident of Achara Layout, Enugu, Mr Kelechi Eke, said that he had packed up his generator “until the situation improves”.

“I have warned my family never to use it, except for a profitable venture.

“I cannot afford to buy fuel and someone will tell me that the generator was switched on for mere comfort, following a temporary power outage.

“I will not take that from anybody in my house,” he said.

Another resident, Mr Tobechukwu Ene, said that the high cost of fuel forced him to stop using his generator.

Ene regretted that the N3,000 fuel he bought sometime for his generator was not enough to charge his phone battery to the fullest.

In Imo, petrol generator repairers and dealers also said that the subsidy removal policy had put their businesses on the line.

They feared that they would be thrown out of job soon, if nothing urgent was done to make fuel affordable to the common man.

A generator repairer on the popular Douglas Road, Mr Chinedu Dike,  said that the number of his customers had drastically decreased since the subsidy removal policy took effect.

Dike, a father of three, said that an average of 15 persons patronised him daily before the subsidy removal, adding that the number had decreased to a mere five persons in the past three months.

Another repairer, Mr Chris Ubochi, who wedded in April, said that he was making good returns daily before his wedding.

“But things have changed and I am now faced with serious financial difficulties since the subsidy removal.

He, however, was optimistic that things would likely pick up soon with the proposed introduction of CNG in the country.

Another generator repairer, popularly called Dimgba, said that he had gradually resorted to fuel vendor to augment his daily income from generator repairs.

Dimgba called on the appropriate government agencies to quickly address the situation to prevent further economic losses.

Also, Mr Friday Udoka, a repairer-cum spare parts dealer, said that his business had “totally collapsed”  due to low patronage since the subsidy removal.

Udoka advised his co-generator repairers to consider changing their line of business, saying that he was already thinking along that line.

In Awka, John Nnabuike, who repairs generators on Arthur Eze Avenue, said the removal of fuel subsidy had reduced the rate at which people run their generators.

Nnabuike said that people only switch on their generators merely to charge their phone batteries and other communication gadgets because of the high cost of fuel.

He said that he used to get more patronage whenever there was prolonged power outage or system breakdown in the past than now.

According to him, people still use generators during power outages but not like before because they can hardly afford the high cost of petrol.

He said: “Subsidy removal reduced the number of hours people run their generators at home.

“Many shop owners, who are not connected to public power sourxe, still come to us for the maintenance of their generators,” Nnabuike said.

He also said that the situation was practically the same for most private car owners who, he said, had abandoned their cars for public transport because it became hard for them to fuel them.

In Abakiliki, a cross-section of artisans, including generator repairers, welders, fashion designers and tailors as well as hotel operators, hair stylists and other private business concerns, said that the subsidy removal brought more harm than good to them.

Mr Austine Ogbaga, who sales and repairs generators in the capital city, told NAN that the development led to low patronage by customers.

Ogbaga described the impact as painful and embarrassing.

“This is my own profession and I do not have any alternative business plan to switch over to,” he said.

Another repairer, Albert Nkwuda, said that it would be difficult to change his line of business.

Mr Stanley Ezeh, who also deals in generators, said that fuel subsidy removal had led to a decline in sales.

A fashion designer, Mr Gabriel Udeze, said that the development had shattered his plans, adding that with the drop in the number of customers, his daily income had gone down below N1000.

Udeze said that he was spending a greater part of his daily earnings on fueling his generator to work.

“Before now, tailoring was profitable to serious minded persons.

“But since the fuel subsidy was removed, every tailor is currently spending a large chunk of his proceeds on energy,” Udeze said.

A Hair Stylist and Hotel Operator, Mr Francis Amah and Ifeanyi Oge, frowned at the high cost of fuel and epileptic power supply from public power source.

A welder, Mr Nwokeocha Igwe, said that welders were merely working for petrol dealers.

A resident, Mr Onyeka Anikwe, said that the current economic environment had been made favourable by the subsidy removal policy.

According to him, Nigerians are struggling to breathe under the suffocating cost of goods and services.

NAN reports that the respondents were unanimous in their demand for government’s urgent intervention through the subsidy palliatives to cushion the effects of its removal and help stabilise the economy.

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