Civil society activist, Reverend Olu Martins, has explained to residents of communities in Egor area of Benin, Edo state that they are experiencing power outages from Benin Electricity Distribution Plc (BEDC) because Generating Companies (GenCos) are not able to generate enough electricity for domestic and industrial needs.
Martins, who made the assertion during a town hall meeting held in Ugbowo, said there was a great challenge of power in Nigeria with less than 5,000 megawatts to a population of 170 million, stressing that the current energy output of 1,500 was a reflection of the perennial energy crisis that was yet to be addressed.
He explained that the power sector has been starved with investment since 1984 whereas the country has increased in population and infrastructure, adding that current operators of BEDC spent huge amount to purchase the company and “it is only natural for them like businessman to get their returns on investment and equally make profit, hence they are to give services only to those who will pay for it.”
The civil society activist noted that the government was not subsiding electricity or any point of the power value chain, namely generation, transmission or distribution. He stressed that power is no longer a social but commercial commodity, whose prices is determined by the forces of demand and supply.
Martins, who supported the recent tariff review, which saw a slight increase in tariff and removal of fixed charge, urged communities to manage their consumption by switching off appliances when not in use.
Also speaking, Chief State Head, Edo, Fidelis Obishai, explained that the quantum of energy supplied to BEDC from the national grid was barely sufficient more so with the system collapse experienced at the generation point of the value chain.
He therefore urged customers to pay for the little energy they were getting.
“BEDC is here to distribute electricity and collect revenue. With a customer base of 750,000 in our coverage states we need 2,600 megawatt but we only get 320 megawatts, which means we don’t have enough to distribute. BEDC is not punishing anybody through inadequate supply but resorted to load management to ensure that all customers get a feel of what is given to us” Obishai stated.
He said BEDC has not been able to collect money to the tune of the amount it pays for the cost of power, stressing that customers should strive to pay whatever little they were getting to enable BEDC honour obligation to various tiers of the value chain.
Responding to customers’ questions on staff impersonation and vandalism, the Edo state chief head said that BEDC has concluded plans to issue out uniforms for linesmen and technical staffers to discourage the scourge of impersonation and illegal connection within the network.