Residents of Ode-Aye community in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State have decried the arbitrary services and estimated charges by Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) after 48 months of mass disconnection from the national grid.
The community, under the aegis of Bring Back Our Light (BBOL), a pressure group campaigning for the restoration of light in the six councils of the South Senatorial District of the state since 2014, accused BEDC of gross misconduct.
In a statement signed and made available to The Guardian in Akure by the BBOL convener, Mr. Olumide Akinrinlola, and the group’s secretary, Dare Omopariola, they lamented the “fraudulent estimated electricity billing system in Ode-Aye community.”
The electricity company had lit up the community after several failed attempts on December 25, 2018, enduring four years of mass disconnection of the entire district, but the BBOL convener disclosed that the company “haven’t issued any new bill to electricity users since epileptic power supply was restored to the community.
“They also issued a-10 day ultimatum to the community to appear individually at their Ore office to make the payment and fill enumeration form, failing which, they threatened to disconnect the whole Ode Aye community again.”
BBOL faulted the notice noting that the power restoration on Christmas Day was to some parts of the community and it lasted only for seven days.
“The last electricity bill served on our people was in November, 2014. No new one has been issued till date. For reasons best known to BEDC, they have abandoned the reconciliation of the outstanding electricity debts in order to muddle it up with current one by injecting the pre-privatisation bills into the current one, which has already been cancelled by NERC.”
The BEDC Public Relation Officer, Mr. Kayode Brown, refuted the allegations levied against the company, revealing that the enumeration notice sent to Ode-Aye was in line with the agreement signed with the community.
He, however, noted that the customers were giving BEDC a bad name so as to blackmail despite all efforts put in place to reconnect the district.
Meanwhile, there was wide jubilation in Badeku, a town in Ona-ora local government area of Oyo State last weekend following restoration of power in the community. Badeku was thrown into darkness some months back when men of the underworld carted away electricity cables in the community. The area came back to life when the cable was fixed.
Speaking on the development, Chief Felix Oyebamiji Lawal, the Baale of Badeku, on behalf of residents, appreciated Hon. Taiwo Micheal Akintola, the House of Representatives member representing the area for his intervention. According to the chief, Taiwo was alerted about the incident three weeks ago and he promised to wade into the situation.
The chief said: “On Monday, he responded to our need and the power challenge has been fixed and light is back to our community.”
However, residents of Isheri-oshun and Jakande Estate in Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos on Sunday trooped out en-mass to protest against persistent epileptic power supply in the area and outrageous bills given to consumers by Ikeja Electric (IE). They also intensified clamour for prepaid meters as the only way out of their dilemma.
They lamented that they cannot continue paying for darkness.
According to some artisans in the area, the little supply has led to a decline in their activities, claiming that a larger chunk of their proceeds go into purchase of petrol, despite being charged exorbitant electricity bills.
Coordinator of the protest, Mr. Adeniyi David, said they have been overbilled and under-serviced.
“For more than two years, we have been approached by several station managers to adopt a light sharing formula in the estate and to that we have bluntly refused. Since then, we have been denied regular power supply. We only have an average of an hour of supply at odd hours, like midnight when we don’t need it.”