31 August 2021
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Residents on the Graceland Estate, Oba Ile, in the Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, trooped out on Monday to protest against what they termed crazy estimated billing by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company.
The protesters also kicked against poor power supply to the community by the distribution company, saying supply to the area did not improve despite efforts by the landlords and landladies in the community.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as, ‘We say no to crazy bills,’ ‘We don’t want estimated billing,’ ‘BEDC, give us pre-paid meters,’ ‘ BEDC is cheating us,’ ‘ We are ready to pay for what we consume,’ ‘Enough is enough,’ among others.
The protesters were said to have headed for the BEDC office in the community, locked the entrance gate and prevented the staff members from gaining access.
PUNCH Metro gathered that it took the intervention of some security men before the workers were allowed into the premises.
Speaking with journalists, the Chairman of the Graceland Estate Landlord Association, Mr Popoola Martins, said residents had paid for pre-paid meters, but the BEDC allegedly refused to make the meters available to them.
The chairman alleged that the BEDC only had interest in collecting money without maintaining facilities or providing new infrastructure for customers
He said, “We are here to tell the BEDC that their illegality must stop. We are responsible for buying poles, cables, conductors and even transformers. Their only input is to collect money.
“We are being given bills of N70,000 to N110,000 monthly per house; this is outrageous. The transformer we procured is yet to be installed. We want the world to call the BEDC to order.”
The protesters later submitted a letter to the electricity company.
In the letter, they demanded that the company stop issuing them estimated billing, but rather supply functional prepaid meters to all houses.
Other demands included immediate installation of the new transformer and that the estate must be removed from ‘Band E’ to ‘Band A.’
A spokesperson for the BEDC, Akure, Mr Micheal Barnabas, said the protesters were not given pre-paid meters because they were on Band E, promising that the meters would be distributed to them after customers on Band A to C had got theirs.
He added that customers without meters were billed based on the feeder and tariff bands they were linked with