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How FCTA tamed the frequent streetlight failure monster
Engr. Olaloye, Director, DFMM
July, 2020

He holds one of the 'hottest', pressure cooker jobs in Federal Capital Territory (FCT). As Director, FCT Administration (FCTA)'s Department of Facilities Maintenance and Management (DFMM), one would not be far from the reality to say youthful Engr. Niyi Olaloye hardly sleeps deeply. Imagine seeing the streetlights leading to the Presidential Villa or to FCT Minister's residence or other such sensitive parts of Abuja, the nation's seat of power, not functioning or failing!

It is his brief to keep such facilities running at optimum, as they say, 24/7 and no excuses are tolerated. A particularly busy man, Engr. Olaloye managed to sit down to speak with Abuja Digest Weekly duo of Felix Durumbah and Vivian Adewoye in his office recently. Intermittently taking furtive glances at his wristwatch, he fielded questions on unfolding issues in facilities maintenance and management in Federal Capital City (FCC).

Abuja Digest Weekly: We noticed that your department is installing stand-alone solar streetlights in parts of Federal Capital City (FCC). What led to this action?
Olaloye: Thank you very much. Presently, the DFMM, as we all know, is in charge of maintenance and management of infrastructural facilities with Federal Capital City. We are currently installing the stand-alone solar streetlights within the city. Hitherto, we had been involved with the maintenance and management of the conventional streetlights, as we know it. The conventional streetlight consist of the poles, the fittings, the cabling to the transformer, then deriving power from AEDC (Abuja Electricity Distribution Company) which in turn derives power from the national grid.

Now, the challenge we have here is that we're faced with issues that militate against efficient performance---and these issues are beyond us. Inefficiencies of others are transferred to us, and we're helpless. For instance, we all know that there is crisis in the power sector in Nigeria and this often leads to system failure and insufficient power supply. Because power supply is insufficient, whenever we don't have power supply, we're helpless. The streetlights are dead. And then because we're also connected to AEDC, their issues of inefficiencies and vagaries of their operations, are also transferred to us.

Anytime AEDC has issues with their power distribution, these issues are transferred to us; we don't have power and we're helpless. So, these led to incessant power outages which make our operations to be disrupted often. Another issue that is associated with the conventional streetlight is the fact that the streetlights that are in use consist of outdated fittings. They are HPS (High Pressure Sodium) fittings. These fittings are no longer used in the modern world because of their inefficiencies. The HPS fittings consume so much power and the lighting, the illumination, inefficient; consumes so much power and emits so much heat. That's why when you put the light on the HPS fittings on for some time, you notice that the fitting is very hot because the power consumption is transformed into heat, more of heat than light.

So, at the end of the day we end up spending much more money to pay AEDC and we also pay for all the inefficiencies associated with the HPS fittings. We also have issues of vandalism of cables, cable faults, vandalism of transformer. There was a case of a transformer opposite the National Stadium that was vandalized such that the vandals removed all the components and set the transformer on fire.

It was as bad as that! All these issues made us to be very inefficient in doing our work. So, we began to think outside the box. We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. We began to look at how we can get out of this mess. So, the issue of patronizing solar technology became an attractive option. That is why for about two, three years now, we have been engaged in patronizing the use of solar streetlights in limited quantities. For instance, last year, we installed some solar streetlights at the roundabout in

Maitama, in Berger Junction, and Life Camp. We installed some samples to test-run them and see how they'll perform. And so far, they've performed very well. That is what gave us the confidence to launch out fully. Luckily for us, this year the National Assembly appropriated generous sums of money for us in our budget. I really want to use this opportunity to appreciate and thank the National Assembly for the appropriation to do this work. I also want to use this opportunity to appreciate and thank the Honourable Minister of FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, who graciously endorsed this work for us.

In June this year, we went ahead to deploy the stand-alone solar streetlights within the city as part of emergency measures to respond to the needs of the frontline workers of COVID-19. As we know, the frontline workers—doctors, nurses----move around at night from one treatment centre to the other and we thought it would be very helpful for them to have the entire city well-illuminated. This will provide for safety and give them confidence to do their work well. So, this solar streetlight was actually procured under emergency protocol of COVID-19 in order to assist the frontline workers.

So far, the deployment has been very successful. Right now, as I talk to you, on those streetlights we do not need AEDC for power supply. That is a very important breakthrough. We are off the national grid and we are off AEDC. All we require is to have adequate sunlight in order for us to power the solar streetlights. The installations are almost completed and very soon, we hope that the Honourable Minister will commission the solar streetlights for us all to use.

Abuja Digest Weekly: What parts of FCC have you installed the solar streetlights as of today?
Olaloye: Yes. Right from onset, we designed a policy for the deployment. The policy is as follows: all the existing roads that are being used by residents in the city that do not have streetlights, are given first priority; we want to eliminate security threats and vandalism within the city. You know that darkness promotes insecurity and vandalism. Then, we are also looking at all the roundabouts within the city that are not properly illuminated. These include the Maitama roundabout, Berger roundabout, Area One roundabout, and the Life Camp big roundabout.

As I talk to you now, all these places are well-illuminated. I want to invite you to go round at night and see the beauty of the city and the enhanced security to the life of residents. We're also looking at tertiary roads that have guiding lights. We decided to upgrade them to solar streetlights. And also dark spots at night. These include under the bridges, places where miscreants and criminals hide at night. Those are areas we've also taken as priority in order to beef up security level of the city. Consequently, we have deployed the stand-alone solar streetlights to Life Camp including the big roundabout located just before Life Camp when coming from Kado; this is generously provided with stand-alone streetlights, and also down the Honourable Minister's residence, all around the residence down to Berger

Camp in Life Camp. We have deployments in Zones One and Two, Zone Four in Wuse, and then in Maitama, in Area One in Garki behind the Shopping Centre, and then we also have it in the Presidential Villa, and also we have provided a solar streetlight within the premises of FCT Administration (FCTA) here. You can see at night, from 7.30 pm, you can see everywhere here is well-illuminated. We have provided it generously here in order to ensure that we improve the safety of the environment in the FCTA.

Also, we have it at the approach road to the National Assembly. That road did not have any streetlight before. So we provided solar streetlight on the approach road from Shehu Shagari junction down to the National Assembly. So far, this is the first phase of the deployment. And we hope that next year, the National Assembly will continue to generously provide us adequate funds for us to continue this noble assignment.

Abuja Digest Weekly: How do you secure the solar streetlights in view of the high incidence of vandalism, which you spoke of, in FCT? Any plans for, say, secret cameras?
Olaloye: Thank you very much. Already, as I speak to you, we have some secret cameras around the city which were deployed hitherto and are helping us monitor some of our installations. Secondly, the solar streetlights themselves have in-built security features. For instance, the solar streetlight is engraved with the name of the company that we're dealing with. That makes it easier for us to trace if there is any theft. So the name of the company, RKK, is engraved on the panel of the solar streetlight.

Also, the installation is such that it cannot be loosened by a common spanner that you find in Dei-Dei or wherever. You can't just pick up a common spanner to come and loose the installation. The installations have been put in place by special equipment, special tools, to put them in place. So, to remove them, you need those special tools again, which are not available to vandals. These are in-built security features that we have ensured that are involved.

Thirdly, we have embedded in the contract provision for a two-year warranty. That is to say, for the next two years, the contractor will be responsible for the maintenance and security of the installations. Within these two years, we hope to put in place a very robust arrangement to take over from the contractor. Also, we have our existing contractors, 15 of them, all over the city who are currently maintaining and securing the conventional streetlights. Within their own areas of jurisdiction, they take care of all these installations also and they are being paid for it. So, you can see that we have a very robust arrangement in place to ensure that these solar streetlights are secured. Also, we are making adequate enlightenment to the residents. Most of the installations are in residential areas and we expect the residents in these areas who have suffered darkness and insecurity over the years, to embrace these installations as their own and ensure that they do not allow any strange person to tamper with the installations.

Abuja Digest Weekly: These solar streetlights will certainly save some much-needed money in terms of maintenance cost and high bills hitherto paid to AEDC. Can you tell the public how much will be saved by this venture?
Olaloye: Yes, obviously we are making huge savings from the bills being paid to AEDC with the deployment of this solar now and the fact that it uses LED; the LED lamps themselves account for over 70% reduction in power consumption. So, you can imagine that, at least, we are saving not less than 70% of our bills in those areas where these solar streetlights have been deployed. They are also saving money in terms of maintenance. All this money being saved, we hope, will be aggregated together to provide us more funds to expand in the provision of this solar streetlight to other parts of the city. I am sure the Director of Treasury and other relevant Directors will be able to work out details of the savings in terms of naira and kobo.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Any word for potential international investors and others?
Olaloye: For the FCT residents, I advise that this is rainy season and we all know that flooding is a serious issue in Nigeria, especially areas prone to flood. We also know that in FCT we have had our own fair share of flood cases in the past. So, I want to advise that residents should ensure that they do not dump their garbage in the drains. They should dump their garbage in designated places provided by AEPB (Abuja Environmental Protection Board). This will help us all and ensure that we do not record any adverse case of flood incidents this year.

For the foreign investors, we want to encourage them to see that this is a new dawn; we are committed to renewing the infrastructural management and maintenance within FCT which will enhance their businesses as they come into the country. So, they should rest assured that things are going to get better for them and their businesses in the country. Also, on the issue of the ravaging coronavirus globally and in Nigeria, I want to appeal to residents of FCT that we should accept the reality of the fact that COVID-19 is real. We should not make ourselves part of the statistics.

We should ensure that we play our own part. NCDC has given us details of the health protocols to be observed. We should make use of our face masks regularly especially when we are not alone, we should observe physical distancing, wash our hands regularly and also apply hand sanitizers as regularly as possible. I have my own hand sanitizer here on my table and I have my face mask on. When we do our part and government also does its own part, together we ensure safety and good health for all.

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