Consumers, BEDC Differ On New Electricity Tariff
THE electricity supply in several parts of Edo state has remained epileptic even with the new tariff coming into effect. Findings from the three senatorial districts of the State showed that there is no improvement in power supply and the people wondered why there should be increase in tariff.
In Igarra, headquarters of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area in Edo North, load shedding has become the order of the day. One of the residents in the area said: “Before now, we witnessed improved power supply, but in the last few days, we have been having power outage.
In Ujabhole-Uwessan Irrua in Esan Central Local Government in Edo Central Senatorial District, the people have been in darkness for the better part of the last eight months. According to an indigene of the community, Akhere Ebojele, “ the Government should take urgent steps to improve power supply particularly to the rural communities.
“We do not really understand what this new tariff means. There should be continuous stakeholders’ meeting.”
In some parts of Benin city, the state capital, it is the same complaints of poor power supply.
The Director, Justice Research Centre (JRC), Donald Inwalomhe shared a similar view.
“It is strange that the distribution companies are talking about increase in tariff, when consumers still buy the transformers they use. It is the people that are still buying cables, when there are problems, consumers mobilise BEDC officials to work”
In Igbukhioko area of Ekenwan road, the situation is not different; epileptic power supply especially in the last few days. At Isior and Adolor areas along the Ugbowo – Lagos, lights are rarely available.
According to a resident of the area, Uyi Osaretin, there is no time I get to my house from 9 pm that my generator will not be on. I normally put it off by midnight. We get light for one hour between 4 and 5 am. That is the end of it for the day. So in this situation, how can they talk about increase in tariff?”
In Edo State and environs where the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) operates, consumers’ interest have been championed by civil society organisations.
They have led protests and negotiations for the abolition of the fixed charges. They have vehemently resisted attempts to increase tariff. They said the recent action of government was illegal as a result of an existing court order.
Its Public Relations Officer, Osazee Edigin told The Guardian yesterday that they would continue to legitimately resist any move by the federal government to increase electricity tariff.
Also in a letter to the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Yemi Adebiyi who in May this year got a court order against the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) not to increase tariff until the suit is dispensed said the increase in tariff was illegal.
He said the minister, vice president, and the chairman of NERC are seasoned lawyers who know the implication of violating court orders.
However, the Spokesman of BEDC, Tayo Adekunle said increasing tariff and abolishing fixed charge was a win-win situation for the consumers and Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
“There are two parties involved; the masses represented by the consumers and the DISCOS or the power sector value chain, government is the final arbiter, and in its wisdom looked at the case on the merits of the positions of the two parties; the masses are saying no to fixed charge that it is not right to just pay a flat rate and government in its wisdom removed the fixed charge.
“DISCO is the collecting agent for the entire value chain of the power sector. For whatever income that comes to the DISCOS, only a fraction of the income are made available to them, over 50 per cent of the income in terms of collection, goes to the other members of the value chain; the people that supply gas, the generating companies (GENCOS), and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) all those ones have to be paid. Not all the monies come to us”.
“Don’t forget that we are just two years old, so we have to be realistic, consumers are talking from one side and we are talking from the other side so the onus is on government and that is what the new tariff has done because if you stifle too much, the other sectors of the industry will suffer, remember they are being run purely on business basis now.”
On allegations that the DISCOs have not invested in infrastructure, Adekunle said that his company has spent not less than one billion Naira in upgrading their facilities since they came on board two years ago.