• Gives BEDC seven-day ultimatum to restore power
Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Socio-economic activities were paralysed for several hours in Sapele, headquarters of Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday as residents staged a peaceful protest to the office of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) over incessant power outages and outrageous billings.
The protesters numbering over 5,000, carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘BEDC must go’ ‘Sapele need line 33 too’, ‘No light, no payment of bills’, ‘Disconnect all the leaders from line 33,’ among others.
The protesters marched round the major roads in the town before rounding up at BEDC’s office ATP and vowed to return in a week if their complaints were not attended to.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, at the gate of the company, the Priest of St Patrick Catholic Church, Sapele, Rev. Fr Christopher Ekibo, who led the protesters said Sapele indigenes were tired of living in darkness.
The priest who brought along his light bills told BEDC officials that for a long time Sapele has lived with the reality of three hours electricity supply in a day and sometimes no power supply at all.
He attributed the closure of companies in the town, especially Eternit Nigeria Limited that has moved to Enugu, to the poor power supply to Sapele, adding that artisans and SMEs were going through pains to sustain their business and demanded for improvement in power supply.
Others who spoke on behalf of the protesters were Cyprian Anyanwu who demanded the immediate supply of prepaid metres and Mike Egbune who said they would continue to advocate and fight for the people’s right.
Also addressing the protesters, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Felix Anirah, said, Sapele residents were tired of incessant power failure.
He called on BEDC to listen to the people’s plight, adding: “You can see they are angry, only God knows what will happen if they return.”
Responding to their complaints, Mr. Adekunle Tayo ,Head, Corporate Affairs, BEDC said the low supply was due to low generation of power to the national grid.
He explained that BEDC’s allocation has been nine per cent of whatever was generated nationally from which they now share among its four coverage states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states.
He said they had overdrawn their allocation for Delta State from 31 to 41 per cent yet it was not enough to meet the required needs of customers.
Tayo however assured that supply to Sapele residents will improve as soon as there is increase in allocation to BEDC from the national grid and begged the protesters to bear with the company.