By Festus Ahon
THE Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Benin Electricity Development Company, BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu, has blamed the cost of prepaid metres on Customs import duty by Customs, saying the company has put machinery in place with a list of innovations geared towards customers’ satisfaction, and arresting underperformance, high cost of new prepaid meters.
Speaking to newsmen in Asaba at the end of the graduation ceremony of the fourth Graduate Trainee Program, GTP, and third Technical Trainee Program, TTP, made up of 60 and 74 new staff respectively, Osibodu said the epileptic power supply that snowballed into a weeklong blackout being experienced by residents of Asaba and its environs would soon be addressed with the on-going upgrade of the substation, located along Ibusa road from 150mva to 300mva.
Expressing hope of improved and efficient customer relations and regular electricity for consumers in Asaba and its environs, said the new tariff commencing from June 2020, as approved by National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC
and it’s Metering Asset Provider, MAP, scheme starting next month in Delta has seen them partnering with five approved vendors.
Osibodu said; “to enable us to win back consumers confidence, BEDC team leaders will wear their brown tee-shirt with their names inscribed on them, while technical crew leaders on red overall with numbers inscribed on their back and also their safety hat. That way they can be identified and quote such names and numbers should there be any problem relating to their official visit to streets or homes.
“As a result, consumers are advised to ensure that touts are not encouraged, by refusing to deal with them if they are not properly identified”, advising “consumers to look out for, and encourage enumerators that will be visiting their homes any moment soon; efforts are on to end the estimated bills regime. They are also encouraged to report issues to higher authorities when they notice any sharp practice. (Customs)
“We are working with the state government to double the power supply effectively in Asaba and its environs from 150mva to 300mva. None availability of light is not palatable, but the hope of a better day with more capacity should keep consumers hopes alive.
“Power and meters are customers right to have, so we are working on getting meters to the homes of those who have been enumerated before the light comes. For those who refused to be enumerated, they have themselves to blame as we continue with the next neighbourhood.”
On the increase in tariff as approved by NERC, she said; “the new tariff will start from the middle of next year. It became necessary, because the major changes that have happened in the economy, in terms of dollars/naira exchange rates, has not been reflected in the tariff.
“In fact, it should have been higher with the rise in dollars, but the Government (Customs) held on for this long. I can assure you that the price did not reflect properly as it is being absorbed by the Government that has been subsidising it for the last two years.
“The rate is still far cheaper, compared to the cost of production. But the good news about the new tariff is that third parties can now come in and generate powers. However, we keep warning against the idea of communities or individuals buying and replacing damaged transformers, poles and other equipment.
“It remains the property and duty of BEDC to provide them, so long the affected areas are not found wanting on bills payment”, warning new tenants to ensure that their landlords have sorted old bills.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman, Board of Directors, BEDC, Mr Victor Osibodu, said: “We will be partnering with several Delta State tertiary institutions in achieving more synergy in learning curriculum and recruitments”.