By Chris Njoku
Hon. Ojoi Ekpenyong, Managing Director, MD of the Cross River Tourism Bureau has explained the reason behind the lack of power in the Slave History Museum situated in the Marina Resort, Calabar.
Ekpenyong disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN on Tuesday in Calabar while reacting to claims by the Slave History Museum of being charged high electricity bill, beyond its capacity to pay.
NAN had earlier visited the museum and discovered that it was without power even though other businesses on the premises of the Marina Resort had power.
An official of the museum who spoke to NAN on the basis of anonymity claimed that they were charged N100,000 monthly for electricity by the Tourism Bureau which managed the resort, adding that it was too high and they could not afford it.
The MD said for more than two years, the Marina Resort had no power and no one could run a first-class resort without power.
He said on assumption of office, he noticed that the greatest challenge of the resort was power, so, he took the initiative and went to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC and secured a dedicated line.
According to him, the dedicated line supplied electricity for a minimum of 22 hours daily to the resort but it came at a cost as the government of Cross River had to pay about N12 million to get this done.
“After securing this power, the monthly electricity bill of the resort was N2.5 million, so, I called all the vendors at the resort including the Slave History Museum and divided the bill.
“What was allotted to the museum was N200,000 monthly but because it was the museum, I gave them a 50 per cent discount which is N100,000 but they won’t pay.
“They want to run the place, collect between N500 and N1,000 from each of the tourists that visit the museum without paying for electricity bill, even though they have about 15 air conditioners.
“We were able to attract a cinema company that invested about N800 million to the resort because we had to work on the power and security of the place, today the resort is alive again and yet some people refuse to pay their bill,” he said.
Ekpenyong maintained that the government of Cross River built the museum and handed it over to the National Museum and Monuments, yet we are the once that clean the resort and provide security.
He stated that he is aware that from the head office of the National Museum and Monuments, imprest was given to run the museums, yet they have refused to pay the electricity bill.
The MD added that the museum owed the bill for two months that was for Oct. and Nov. 2023 before they were disconnected in the first week of Dec. 2023, noting that they were the only ones disconnected from power in the resort.
On the development of the resort, the MD said the bureau was still engaging with the private sector to come and invest in different sectors of the resort.