Power Supply: Warri Residents Tackle Benin Electricity Distribution Company Over Outrageous Billing

Source: thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, September 09, (THEWILL) - Pandemonium broke out Tuesday in Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State, over what has been termed 'outrageous and strange billing' by officials of the Benin Electricity, Distribution Company (BEDC).

THEWILL learnt that attempt by some BEDC's personnel to disconnect a building which is still under construction from power supply had sparked off the uproar at the 3rd Marine Gate axis of the city.

This came few minutes after BEDC officials who were going around the metropolis on 'disconnection assignment' had pulled down the connection cable of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Warri Correspondents Chapel Secretariat under the claim that the union was owing the establishment.

It was however discovered that the bill estimated for the NUJ secretariat doesn't bear the union's name but that of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) which apparently was the reason for the huge estimated bill often sent to the union's House.

Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Warri Correspondents Chapel have expressed displeasure about the recent electricity billing from BEDC in the metropolis, alleging frequent 'extortion' bid by BEDC's agents.

THEWILL learnt that officials of BEDC typically compute billing belong to the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and send same to the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) secretariat believing that the bill was going to the right source.

Vice chairman of the union, Mr. Joe Ogbodu, who discovered the anomaly when BEDC officials stormed the Union House to pull down their cable said; 'That's how that have been billing us, they give us outrageous billing each month; so this month, when they came we decided to check their records and we found out that our address was recorded as NUT instead of NUJ; so we suspect the bill that they have been sending to us does not belong to us.

'We can't afford to pay such outrageous bills. They often send us estimated bills even when we don't get regular power supply. The last bill they brought read N141, 618, the month in which we owe that bill was not stated, the year was not stated. They just wrote the bill in one piece of paper which read; 'disconnection notice/order' and said we have to pay N2, 000 as reconnection fee for a three-phase meter.

'It is completely strange to us that BEDC is sending us bill which either belongs to NUT or could be their administrative mistake which I think should not be blamed on us.

'If BEDC calls it a computer mistake, for us it is their error, not ours and so they should bear the cost. We would go to any length to contest it that the bill is not ours and I believe this is how they have been fleecing many Nigerians of their finances.

'They look at the name of the firm and if it is a big firm, they sent huge bill down and I think they have been sending huge bills to us because they believe NUT is a big establishment and we are of the NUT.'

Residents of Warri and its environs had often complained that the Warri area branch of BEDC is the only public utility firm that forces consumers to pay for services not yet consumed and delivered.

Few months ago, residents of Aladja in Udu council area who protested against overbilling by BEDC said most times, even after payment, BEDC officials in Warri still disconnect consumers, for flimsy excuses, such that the customer failed to display the evidence of payment, among others.

One of the residents of Jeddo area of the Warri metropolis who simply gave his name as Godstime Amioku said in most areas, BEDC brings bills for a particular month at the first or second week of that same month, while most times, they warn customers to pay before a certain time, usually within one week, or risk disconnection. 'This means that people pay bills for a particular month before the end of the particular month,' he added.

Continuing, he said; 'We don't even get the light constantly. They shed light two days on, one day off while other neighbouring areas are having it regularly. And again, you find out that this areas where the light is constant are places BEDC personnel stay .'

A resident of Ekete-inland, Mr. Okies Akpobaro, said he still can't understand how BEDC comes about the amount with which they bill consumers lamenting that electricity consumers are left at the mercy of BEDC marketers who respondents allege, are mostly corrupt.

All efforts to reach the Head of Corporate Affairs of BEDC, Warri District Office, Mr. Edmund Gbinwe, proved abortive as he refused to pick his calls or reply to text messages sent to his mobile phones.