June 16, 2024

Hoteliers in Sapele groan over crippling electricity tariffs


.Decry Monthly charges in excess of N7m

By Omeiza Ajayi

Hoteliers and owners of business concerns in the ancient city of Sapele, headquarters of Sapele local Government in Delta state have cried out to the Federal and State Governments to come to their aide and free them from the strangulating influence of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC.

The Save our Souls message followed what they described as the outrageous and crippling electricity charges by the BEDC which has refused all forms of reasoning.

The cries of these hoteliers are hinged on recent hike in electricity for Band A consumers which they said has resulted in BEDC officials reconfiguring their systems, a development that has led to increased charges without commensurate supply.

A member of the Association of Hotels Owners, resident in the ancient city who spoke with journalists in Abuja over the weekend, while pleading that his name should not be mentioned for fear of victimization, said his monthly consumption bill rose from N300,000 to over N1.2m.

He wondered how his fellow members with larger facilities will be coping as many of them are now paying between N8m and N11m on a monthly basis.

He called for understanding, as this will force many to close down their businesses over their inability to meet up with daily expenses and cost of running generating plants to bridge the gap in the epileptic power supply to the town.

Sapele, a commercial beehive is now a shadow of its old self with businesses daily going under with the harsh economic downturn due to the absence of adequate power supply to the town.

“The presence of the Ogorode Power Plant, notwithstanding, has been a huge minus, as they cannot boast of steady six hours daily power supply. To make matters worse, BEDC has become a thorn in the flesh of  the inhabitants.

“The unfavourable business environment has compelled many to relocate their businesses elsewhere in order to survive. Sadly, hotel owners cannot adopt a similar approach considering the fact that they cannot remove structures built with hard-earned resources but are instead, appealing to government to come to their aid by imploring upon BEDC to address the issue”, said another business owner who simply gave his name as Julius.

He appealed to the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company in Sapele, under the watch of Messers Friday Okosun, Austin Isibor and Precious Ogodo to reconsider the recalibrations of the power transformers in the city.

“Their action resulted in very high billing of all Band A consumers as they all started receiving over 300% of their former bills. For example, hotels that use to consume 10,000 units jumped to 34,000, 39,000, 40,000 units and above without any additional new building, no new equipment but with the same volume of patronage. The bills also increased from between N600,000 to N3.2m monthly. While these hospitality industries were groaning under these huge bills, Mr. Okosun, the regional manager, decided to implement the recent hike in tariff by the Minister of Power, from N67.45 to N225 per unit of energy consumed.

“The April bills for hotels range from N5.9million to N10million for some while others are contending with bills for electricity consumed, from between N11.5m, N14.7m to N17.6m. The Hotels Owners Association drew the attention of the BEDC management to the ongoing debate at the National Assembly and the NLC negotiations with the Federal Government.

“We pleaded that we will pay the bills but with the old tariff rate of N67.45 pending the outcome of the talks between the legislators and Labour. They agreed. To our greatest dismay, after making payments, they still went ahead to give a directive to disconnect supply without notice, insisting that we must make payment in full. The question is, how do they expect that a Hotel located in Sapele would be able to pay N11.5m for electricity every month?”, Julius queried.