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Power Outage Paralyses Activities at Stock Market

Source: burningpot.com

By Goddy Egene and Eromosele Abiodun
Trading activities at the stock market were paralysed yesterday, thereby denying investors, stockbrokers and regulators the opportunity of making money.

The development resulted from the power outage which paralysed the trading facility of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Trading that usually begins at 10.30 am and closes at 12.30 pm did not start until 6.30 pm and lasted for only 30 minutes.

Consequently, investors traded only 44.248 million shares worth N405.5 million, which is about 10 per cent of the daily average of N4 billion transacted in the past few weeks.

The NSE, however, blamed the development on a power problem, which reportedly occurred since Saturday.

Stockbrokers resumed for business yesterday only to be told that they could not trade because the Exchange was having problems with its control room machine. The control room was damaged by its power panel that developed fault during a change of power source from public supply to generators.

The Director-General of the NSE, Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, who was expected to close trading at 12.30 pm, came to the trading floor to announce that trading would not commence until 2:30 to 3 pm.

“A power panel in our control room got burnt on Saturday while we were trying to switch from public power supply to generator. I have asked them to go to our back-up centre to get the one there to replace the one here, because we cannot move all of you to that place to trade,” she said.

But a source who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, said the problem was not just a power panel problem as it does not take an hour to replace one.

“What happened affected the control room. They just brought in a new machine that they are trying to install. They will not allow dealing members to trade until they fix that problem because they are afraid something might go wrong if stockbrokers are allowed to trade without the control room,” the source said.

Apparently disturbed by the situation, the NSE through its spokesman, Mr. Sola Oni, at about 3.00 pm said trading was expected to commence as promised by the DG, explaining that trading might be via the call over system (a system it last used in1999), as a last resort.

“Like the DG earlier said, we are having a problem with a power panel that got burnt while we were trying to change our power supply and we have been making efforts to fix it. As soon as we are able to put it right, we will let you know. But we have an option, which is the manual system. But we are not considering that now because we are hopeful that trading will still take place.

“Globally, it is not a strange thing that a market did not open on a trading day; several markets were closed for two to three days during the crisis early this year. In Russia and some other countries, markets were closed down as a result of investors apathy but ours is not so. The worst case scenario is that we will do a call over, which some markets still use till today. The power situation is a problem that we are all facing in this country. We all read in the newspapers recently that some of our quoted companies are leaving Nigeria as a result of this terrible situation,” Oni said.

The market eventually opened for trading at 6.30 pm and closed at 7.00 pm. Market operators said the development, though not peculiar to Nigeria, had led to loss of revenue by investors, operators and regulators.

“Investors who had planned to sell stocks could not do so. This has denied them revenue, while stockbrokers were not able to make commission and the regulators themselves have been denied their usual commission,” a stockbroker said.

Last December, the Toronto stock market was closed down for a day due to some technical problems.

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