One-year power outage pitches Araromi/Alade community against IBEDEC
Residents Allege Diversion Of Power Supply To Industrial Estates
Residents of Araromi-Alade Community, via Owode-Ijako, along Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Council of Ogun State are livid with the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) for keeping them in darkness for over a year now.
They specifically accused the management of the outfit of diverting power supply meant for the community to other communities and industrial estates for monetary gains. During a peaceful protest staged at the Owode office of IBEDC recently, the aggrieved residents led by the Coordinator of Alade Joint I Community Development Association, Mr. Oyelodi Olusegun, chanted solidarity songs and displayed placards with different inscriptions, which spoke volumes about their grouse.
Some of the placards read, “Help Us, The Blackout Is Affecting Our Businesses,” “Conform With Government’s Change Mantra,” “Give Us Light, Our Mumu Don Do,” and “Enough of Payment For Darkness”, among others.
While the protest lasted, activities at the office were grounded, as some of the officials stayed away, while those who were around stayed indoors.The Guardian learnt that based on an earlier agreement, the power schedule for the area is “one day on, two days off.” But for a long time now, the community has been without light even on its scheduled days, and whenever they are fortunate to have power, it lasts for only four to five hours.
When the new Ota Unit Business Manager took over, the community visited him and the light situation improved to between eight to 10 hours on their scheduled days. But for over a year now, they have been enduring total blackout.At present, residents are moving out of the area in large numbers, and artisans, that rely solely on public power supply, including welders and hairdressers are seeking other means of livelihood as commercial activities are at its lowest.
The recent fuel scarcity across the country, which has not entirely abated has at yet only contributed to making a bad case worse.Neighbouring communities like Ogungbade, Onihale, Kajola, Agoro and Ijoko, are not faring better, as the story is the same in their domain, but the case of Araromi-Alade, the residents claim, is a bit different, as they allege that they are being intentionally punished.
Despite being without power supply, they residents are still being issued crazy electricity bills monthly, and they are made to pay for the power that they are not supplied. Surprisingly, they enjoyed several hours of uninterrupted power supply shortly after they arrived at the decision to protest the long period of power outage. According to the residents, that Saturday was the first time they had light in over one month.
Oyelodi, who coordinated the protest, said the sustained power outage has led to severe economic losses in the community, adding that Ijako, a neighbouring community was enjoying constant electricity supply.While stressing that they would push on until they also enjoy constant power supply, which they are paying for like their Ijako counterparts, he alleged that officials of the IBEDC were diverting their share of electricity supply to neighbouring industrial estates, after they levied themselves to procure electric poles and transformers.
Oyelodi appealed to the appropriate authorities to restore power supply to them in order to jump-start the community’s economic life.Another resident, Richard Bayewunmi, frowned at the treatment meted to them by the electricity company, noting that it has breached the agreement on power schedule entered into by both parties.He also described the electricity bills as outrageous, despite the blackout the community has been experiencing.
“If we are to follow what the Minister of Power said on ‘no meter, no billing,’ we shouldn’t be paying, but let’s thank God for our wives, who understand the situation because economically the development has killed the social and economic life of this community.”He appealed to the appropriate authorities to act with dispatch in order to ameliorate their sufferings.
Mrs. Fatimo Bello, who also dwelt on the crazy bills said IBEDC was currently issuing “flat bills” to everybody, without considering those that are living in small apartments and consuming very little energy. “There should be consideration in that area, and if they cannot do that, let them give us pre-paid meters,” she fumed.
In his response, head of the cash office, Alhaji N. I Salaudeen, said the IBEDC Business Unit Office, Joju, Sango was the appropriate place for the protesters to go, as the office itself was also experiencing blackout.
Salaudeen, who said he was not in the best position to address their grievances, said the firm was only distributing the amount of power it has. He also assured that he would address the issue of billing, as they were addressing matters step by step.Other community members warned that if urgent steps are not taken to ensure that they enjoy regular power supply, more of such protests should be expected in the days ahead as they would continue to ventilate their grievances until their demands are met.
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