Saturday, May 5, 2018

Hot Docs '18 Film Review - Take Light

Nigeria has a power supply issue. The failing state-run companies were privatized but the blackouts continued as many residents have to rely on generators to get power. Along with generators come the potential for injury and the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. The country can generate 12,000 megawatts of power but just 4500 is actually being produced. Part of the reason is due to the gas supplies. Militants regularly attack the pipelines stating that the oil and gas belong to the people thus disrupting service.

Enter Martins Enya Ilang electrician for PHED Port Hardcourt Energy Distribution company  who is on the ground in an industrial area serving the company for little pay along with servicing the local residents. Martins goes into the community each day alongside customer service agent Deborah Ikhile. They talk to customers, read meters and ask to see residents bills If they have not paid Martins puts up his ladder goes up to the line and cuts the wire to the home amid often hostile responses from the residences and at least on one occasion a power surge that hit him with a bold of electricity sending him crashing back to the ground. The wires are often a tangled mess as illegal electricians reconnect lines for a fee mainly at night using inferior materials.

Canadian director Shasha Nakhai goes back to her native land to tell the story of a countries utility that has been neglected, mismanaged and abused resulting in severe consequences for the population. The sequence in the hospital that follows Opus Davies an engineer is the most telling. First the the generator related  injuries coming in; burns as people try to fill running ones with gas plus carbon monoxide scares as residents pull the generators inside to use. Then the difficulty of running a hospital without consistent power. Opus inspects the generators on the roof that are covered with soot that seems to be falling all over the area. The freezers are not in use in the morgue so bodies are dry embalmed and left outside.

N.E.P.A.  National Electric Power Authority is the name known by most people. Opus calls them  Never Expect Power Again. The residents see PHED and NEPA as interchangeable companies coming to cut the light. The diligent crew due their duty often on the wrong end of hostile reactions from the public and ridicule from the likes of You Tube sensations James & Harry Two Angry Men. The situation and prospects are dire but there are some burgeoning elements in place along with hard fair workers like Martins and Deborah and Opus could make a change.

*** Out of 4

Take Light | Shasha Nakhai | Canada | 2018 | 78 Minutes.

Tags: Power Generation, Grid, Electric Distribution, Blackouts, Light, Electric Bill, Pipelines, Privatization, Port Hardcourt, Niger Delta, Oil, Gas, Halliburton.

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