Saturday, May 7, 2011

Black Out

Tonight I am sitting in our flat in the dark, thankful for a strong computer battery.    Our power here goes in and out often, sometimes multiple times during the day – and we are beginning to get used to it.  However, since we also have a good generator, it usually comes back on within a short amount of time, after a series of beeps and alarms when the UPS (universal power supply) kicks in.  However, tonight the power just didn’t come back on.   After about 15 minutes, I called the maintenance office, only to be told that the person in charge would be contacted.  After another 30 minutes of sitting in the dark (with only my computer for light), I called again and was told the same thing.   About that time, I noticed that the common area lights and the elevators were working, so I contacted our neighbor, who has been so kind in the past.     She confirmed that she had electricity, but told me that our power was off because we were down to ZERO with our local power company!   I was surprised that she knew that information and asked her about it.    She explained that the system was a PREPAID system and that they post daily readings of the accounts on a back wall in the lobby for everyone to keep up with their meters.  She said that ours has been highlighted for days and she wondered why we hadn’t taken care of it!!   The system seems to work well  - for those who actually UNDERSTAND the system!    This obviously doesn’t describe us.   (Keeping it real…..and admitting that we still have lots to learn).    

So at 9:00pm on Friday night, we have run out of electrical power and the office opens again on Monday.    Our company usually takes care of these details, but I guess that I should have paid more attention to the fact that our electricity was prepaid BEFORE it ran out.   Experience is truly the best teacher, since I'll be watching our meter in the future! 
Charles had a dinner tonight with business associates, which I graciously interrupted.   He stepped out to call our building manager at home.  Roy, just “happened” to locate a extra place that we could ‘plug into’ for the next few days, which restored our electrical power.   Something about a long extension cord was mentioned along with a credit that we needed to pay back.  Oh, and he knows someone who knows someone who can open the substation to take our money tomorrow– Go figure!   J  Yes, we are WELCOME in Nigeria!    

Update on Saturday morning: 
The pieces are falling in place with the power mystery.  Apparently our office has been paying our electricity WEEKLY.  Two weeks ago, we were notified that there was a new location in which to pay, which obviously messed up the system completely.   So Mutui (our driver) and I set out this morning to locate it.   We drove around and finally stopped to ask an okada (motorcycle taxi) driver for directions who knew right where it was.  We just didn't think about looking for a shipping container with a red roof!!  Yes, our local NEPA (Nigerian Electrical Power Association) has a brand new office with TWO desks!    I visited with Sunday (the clerk) who happily took my money, restoring our power - at least until this amount runs out!  Just another chapter about our life in Nigeria!! 

1 comment:

Jane said...

Janet, that's just a scream! Wonder what else you have to prepay? Better check your water...:)