By Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—Angry consumers, yesterday, in Benin City, Edo State, shut the headquartres of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, on Akpakpava Road, and held its workers hostage over power outages for over two years.
The aggrieved consumers, made up of youths, women and the elderly, from Ogbenogbo, Ogbegbuya and Goodwill/Trade Fair communities in Benin City, also crippled commercial and other activities in all adjoining streets and parts of Forestry Road. They barricaded the two gateways leading into BEDC and converted the gates to kitchens where they slaughtered two goats, cooked jollof rice and yam pottage in large quantities which they fed themselves with while chanting war songs.
A youth leader from one of the communities, Aduku Monday, said the three communities had not enjoyed electricity supply ever since the company took over from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
According to him, “We have not enjoyed power supply ever since BEDC took over from PHCN. The best we have is very epileptic. All forms of business activities in the two communities that depend on electricity have all been paralysed. Formally, we were supplied electricity from the feeder pillar in GRA . But when BEDC took over, they transferred us to Evbuotubu. Again, Evbotubu is already overloaded . That is why we are here today to reject this suffering. They must find solution to the problem.”
Reacting, the General Manager (Public Affairs) of BEDC, Curtis Nwadei, said the communities were heavily indebted to the company.
He disclosed that the three communities were indebted to the BEDC to the tune of N28, 140, 962.26k, saying, “The issue is that they want more than they are presently getting and they want to decide where they get power from even when they are not paying, and we say give us money to serve you better. If they pay their bills, we will give them power.”