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In furtherance of its mandate of ensuring power availability in energising communities spread across its franchise states which were without power supply for a long period or yet to be connected to the national grid, the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc (BEDC) said it has connected Oke-Irhue, an agrarian community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State to the national grid amidst fanfare by her inhabitants.
BEDC, in a statement, explained that the connection of Oke-Irhue to the national grid was to demonstrate its resolve to partner with communities without electricity supply in addressing their power outage challenge having fulfilled all necessary preconditions for energisation.
Speaking at the occasion, a retired Commissioner of Police and Chairman of Oke-Irhue Community, Mr. Douglas Agbonleni, said: “We the entire people of Oke-irhue are happy in that 15 months after the community’s General Assembly worldwide took up the challenge and struggle to light up our community, God finally answered our prayers during this special season of Christmas by granting our village the opportunity to be linked with the national electricity grid today (December 29, 2019), a project which has been ongoing since 2002.”
He added: “BEDC’s powering of the community with electricity has put an end to the travail of some members of the community who over the years had relied solely on generator as the only source of power as they have never been connected to the national grid since inception. This has, however, slowed down the pace of development in the area despite being blessed with abundant resources even as the residents opined that the energisation will no doubt spur the socio-economic development of the area.”
Agbonleni commended members of the community, the electricity committee for their patience, commitment and cooperation in ensuring that the energisation project became a reality and urged them to guide “this noble project jealously against the activities of vandals.”
Noting that there would be re-awakened socio-economic advantage engendered by the new status of the community, Agbonleni thanked BEDC for its guide, support and understanding in spite of inadequacies, promising that the community would keep its own side of the bargain “by ensuring the safety of the equipment and meeting our financial obligations.”
He also thanked the federal government and the entire community members including those in the diaspora for the actualisation of the project, which he said, started through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) initiative in 2002.
It would be recalled that the federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency embarked on the electrification of the community long before the privatisation of the power sector with the provision of two 300KVA distribution transformers.
BEDC, however, took over the project and carried out enumeration, line rehabilitation/maintenance and also the subsequent metering of customers through its Meter Asset Providers (MAP) scheme.
Oke-Irhue has several customers who were only connected to two 300KVA transformers. After the Sunday energisation only 100 of the customers are currently connected in the first phase. Others are to be connected in the next phase of energisation after they must have met wiring standards to ensure safety of customers.