Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has kicked against the N750 monthly fixed charge collected by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) from its customers in the state, saying it amounts to extortion and exploitation of electricity consumers in the state.
The Governor who held a meeting with the management team of BEDC led by Mrs Funke Osibodu, the Benin Forum, led by Chief David Edebiri and the Civil Society Organisations in the state, yesterday said fixed charges and estimated tariff by the Electricity Company was not only irresponsive, but crude and criminal.
According to him, “it is agreed that there is a fixed charge, there is fixed tariff by the new power company. There is no argument about the fact on whether or not the tariff or estimated charges are paid.”
While recalling the first meeting with the management of BEDC, Oshiomhole said “Madam, you will recall the day I first formally received you in my office. I made some factual statements that the essence of privatisation is the increase in the Entrepreneurial efficiency.
“I think I mentioned it that now that the Federal Government has handed over NEPA or PHCN, it is incumbent that you improve on your service delivery to consumers in order to have confidence in your Organization and failure to go below that will spark off a revolt from consumers. This is exactly what is happening today”.
He said “as someone elected to represent the interest of the entire Edo people, I cannot be silent to this type of exploitation by one Company which claims that because there is somebody in Abuja or somewhere responsible for generation, transmission of electricity is not the matter because from what I have gathered from the various speakers, it is certain that what is being done in Edo does not exist in other States.
“I cannot seat here while watching the masses of the people of Edo exploited under the guise of fixed tariff and estimated billing”, he stressed.
Governor Oshiomhole however urged the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company to invite officials of National Electricity Regulatory Commission to his office within a specified time to further deliberate on the matter while directing the BEDC to discontinue their purported disconnection exercise.
Earlier, Comrade Kaduna Eboigbodin and Olu Martins representing Civil Society Groups stated that their complaint against BEDC was hinged on collection of fixed tariff of N750.00 (Seven Hundred and Fifty Naira) per meter and exorbitant charges ranging from N14,000.00 (Fourteen Thousand Naira) and above per flat every month whether there is light or not.
Eboigbodin said that the consumers of Electricity in Benin City and its environs paid for meter and did not get same for up to four years, yet, consumers were served estimated billings stressing that such action was a “disincentive to Edo people”.
He argued that the attitude of Electricity Company’s officials need to be changed adding they go about extorting money from innocent Edo Electricity Consumers.
On his part, Olu Martins implored the management of BEDC to carry out an orientation for their staff while urging them to agree to their demands or they will resume their suspended one month protest.
On his part, Chief David Edebiri, the Esogban of Benin Kingdom representing the Benin Forum corroborated arguments made by representatives of Civil Society Groups and advised the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to close all loopholes associated with distribution of power in the state.
Managing Director of BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu said the process of power supply involved three groups; generation, transmission and distribution.
She agreed that there was fixed tariff and estimated charges stressing that the issue of tariff and estimated charged were like a chain revolving from generation to distribution.
Mrs. Oshibodu said that her distribution company collects tariff on behalf of the generation and transmission companies in the new arrangement which is dependent on National Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC).
She however appealed to electricity consumers in the state to be patient with them stressing that efforts are being made to on electricity distribution in the state.