LANDLORDS and homeowners in Ekiti State took to the streets of Ado Ekiti on Wednesday to protest what they claimed was “outrageous estimated electricity bills” from the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The protesting homeowners, who had trooped out in their hundreds, had marched to the BEDC office in Ajilosun area of the state capital, and demanded the installation of prepaid meters to all desiring homes in the town and denounced alleged demand for N40,000 for the installation of the meters.
They also warned BEDC that if prepaid meters were not installed, “we will be paying N3,000 monthly as electricity bill until prepaid meters are installed in our houses.”
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, who had come under the aegis of Ado Ekiti Landlord and Landladies/Electricity Consumers Association, Dr Ibukun Ogundipe, said it was wrong and “flew in the face of commonsense for BEDC to be giving between N13,00 and N18,000 as electricity bills to a three-bedroom bungalow when electricity actually lasts for between two and three hours daily.”
Ogundipe added: “Pursuant to the inability of BEDC to meet our first demand, we shall henceforth start paying N3,000 per month as our legitimate bill without any regard to whatever figure or amount posted on our bills.
“Our Lawyers have been briefed to take appropriate legal action to challenge these unmitigated pains on every electricity consumer in Ekiti, Ado Ekiti in particular.”
He, however, hinted that the management of BEDC had called them to a meeting, saying the meeting would prescribe the way forward in what they said was “an issue that cuts across all strata of the Ekiti society.”
They said,”anywhere across the world, prepaid meters remain the best way to measure the actual amount of megawatts consumed and Ekiti case can’t be different.”
They had placards through which they called BEDC names and had taken off from the popular Okeyinmi junction and marched through Ijigbo roundabout to the BEDC’s office.
However, the BEDC in the reaction described the protest as “uncalled for because some of our consumers were calling to commend us for the regular supply of electricity to their areas.”
The Ado Ekiti Business Manager of the company, Mr Johnson Adewolu, said the protest was “surprising” because the supply of electricity to Ekiti was increased from about 4,000 kWh to about 10,000 kWh because of the demand from the people, and the same people are protesting?
Adewolu said the company was “losing an average of N100million monthly because the electricity supplied to us is N264 million but we are receiving about N128million from consumers.”
The Public Relations Officer of BEDC, Ekiti and Ondo state, Mr Ilori Kayode-Brown, said: “we say no to their demand to pay N3,000 monthly because there is no electricity of N3,000 in this dispensation.”
On their allegation that BEDC was hoarding prepaid meters, Brown, who said the protest was a surprise to the company, explained that “you can’t hoard what is not available, besides the Federal Government said we should give prepaid meter for free, so what’s the sense in hoarding it?”
According to the PRO, “We have over 100,000 consumers in Ekiti and they can’t get the meters at the same time. We have completed the installation of meters for our maximum demand customers, now we are on the prime consumers after which we would start with non-maximum demand consumers, where most of our consumers fall.”
While pleading with the protesters to see reason with the company, Brown said: “BEDC is a responsible company and we can’t cheat our customers. We have got their demands and the management will seek an audience with them and resolve the matter amicably.”
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