Residents of Sido Street, Odion-Urhobo community in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta, on Monday registered their displeasure with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) as they resorted to a peaceful protest over high electricity tariff charged by the company as well as poor power supply to the area.
The annoyed demonstrators, who came out en mass, covered a long distance from their community on foot, through the major Warri/Sapele Road, causing gridlock on the road, putting human and vehicular movement on hold for about an hour.
They were armed with branches of trees and placards with varying inscriptions. Some of the angry protesters were seen carrying branches of trees and placards with varying inscriptions amidst chants of “We nor go pay oh!, NEPA People we nor pay.”
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who monitored the protest, reports that actively involved in the protest were pregnant and nursing mothers, men, youths and children.
On getting to the entrance of BEDC complex along Warri/Sapele Expressway, the protest team hurled stones, grasses and leaves into the premises of the power station, in an attempt to draw the attention of officials of the company.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Mr Godwin Akana, a resident of Sido Street, who spoke to newsmen lamented that the high electricity tariff was biting harder on them. He said:
“With the fuel scarcity now, it is difficult for us to power our generating sets. We no see light, we no see fuel, Nigeria jaga-jaga, when you go hustle money, pay for the light, you are suppose see the light use. BEDC should reduce the tariff; it is too much for us.”
Another resident, Mrs Edith Hitila condemned the excessive billing saying:
“For one month them bring N57, 000 light bill for eight people living in face me I face you house. The light no dey constant and the bill dey affect us everyday, the problem don reach almost a year plus now. We want make them cut the bill down, and make we dey see the light use.”
In the same vein, Mrs Oke Rita decried the estimated billing method used by BEDC, which has resulted in an overly high electricity tariff, urging them to provide prepaid metres. According to her,
“Our NEPA bill too high, our income nor dey reach us, we nor fit pay for House rent, we dey feed from hand to mouth. Before na wetin metre read you dey pay, but now light no dey, metre dey read, bill dey high, make them help us bring the price down.”
None of the officials of the power station came up to address the the group of protesters. Instead, scores of armed anti-riot mobile policemen were deployed to guard against possible breakdown of law and order while the protest lasted.
Efforts to reach the Business Manager of BEDC, Warri zone, on his phone line proved abortive.