Residents of Asaba under the aegis of Young Nigerians Right Organization on Wednesday ignored the directive of the Delta State Police Command and embarked on a protest march against poor services by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The police command had unsuccessfully attempted to stop the protest march on the ground that it might be hijacked by cultists to cause mayhem in the capital city.
But the protest, which commenced with the mobilisation of residents to the Inter Bau flyover, was generally peaceful.
The placard bearing protesters marched through Anwai road, and had a brief stop over at the Asaba office of BEDC, before marching to Government House where they were addressed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Chief of Staff, Devid Edevwie.
Inscriptions on some of the placards included such messages as ‘Funke must go’, ‘God said let there be light and BEDC said there must be darkness’, ‘Provision of meters must be addressed’, ‘Stop estimated billing’, ‘Bonsaac community donated transformer to BEDC, Funka refused to give approval for installation’, ‘BEDC is incompetent company, therefore, its license must not be renewed’, among others.
Coordinator and leader of the protesting group, Victor Ojei, lamented the lack of electricity in Asaba and its environs, saying the BEDC lacked the capacity to deliver good services.
He said the company has continued to extort consumers with outrageous bills whilst not supplying them with electricity, and called on the Federal Government not to renew the company’s operational license.
Ojei said that BEDC has deliberately refused to maintain facilities which it inherited from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), pointing out that consumers now take it upon themselves to fix faulty BEDC equipment or even provide new ones.
Another leader of the protesters, Kingsley Okpuno, stated that residents of Asaba and its environs were now suffering as a result of the poor services of BEDC, lamenting that the development has disincentivized artisans operating in the metropolis.
Okpuno said communities have resorted to self help by contributing to provide transformers, lamenting however that BEDC refused to install such transformers on the grounds of unpaid accumulated bills.
He said residents have resigned themselves to buying fuel at high cost to power their generators on a daily basis.
Addressing the protesters, Edevwie assured that their grievances would be channeled to the appropriate authorities for action, advising them meanwhile to remain law abiding.
The head of BEDC in Delta State, Fidelis Obishai, had at the peace meeting convened by the state police command assured that the company will investigate allegations of extortion, as he urged consumers to pay their electricity bills in order to get improved services.