Electricity consumers in Warri and its environs have lamented how the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) is killing businesses in Warri through escalating bills amid poor power supply.
They urged the management of the BEDC to adjust their billing pattern so that businesses in the oil rich city can thrive.
Emmanuel Okoro, who owns a laundry shop in First Marine Gate, Warri, and retired civil servant, said that the billing had soared astronomically in recent times even when the power supply had remained erratic.
“I rented a shop sometime last year so that I can open a laundry business to feed my family as I cannot depend on a pension alone. I was paying N5,000, some months later it was increased to N8,000 and I complained to the bill distributor.
“I was surprised to receive a N25,000 bill on Monday, Nov. 15. The same was applicable to my neighbours. Where are we heading to in this country?
“I do not have an air conditioner or an electric cooker in my shop. I use only pressing iron in the shop.
“So I do not know the reason for the sudden increase. Please BEDC should better do something now. How much do I make from this business that I will be paying N25,000 for electricity bills,” Okoro lamented.
Another electricity user, Okafo Ojo, expressed disgust over the unsubstantiated billing, accusing the electricity provider of unlawfully milking business owners and residents in his street.
“This building has about three stores in it and I occupy one of the shops where I sell spare parts. This place is not a factory nor do we manufacture anything here.
“The following month, we were given N24,000, after two months, they increased it to N27,000. The last they brought on Monday is above N40,000.
“I am using this medium to call BEDC to order before we embark on a serious protest to their offices,” Osarodion said.
Oghale Ighomena, a tailor, widow and mother of three, said that the economic situation in the country was becoming unbearable for her.
“We only come here to do our small businesses. I own a shop here and nobody lives here. We come to work in the morning and we go back to our various houses in the evening.
“Before now, we were paying N7,000, later it was increased to N12,000, then to N21,000. We complained to the management and they promised to amend it.”
Ighomena, who was visibly angry, expressed disgust at the skyrocketing monthly bill from BEDC.
She asked the electricity firm to come over and remove its wire from their stores.
Also, Peter Akpan, a barber at Skinn Road, Warri, urged the BEDC management to work out a modality to ensure every electricity consumer had a prepaid meter to avoid unnecessary billings.
“BEDC has no excuse for the arbitrary billing. All they need to do is to issue meters to every consumer rather than giving people estimated billings,” he said.
Meanwhile, a management employee of the BEDC, who spoke on anonymity told BusinessDay that the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) was ongoing in the BEDC’s catchment states which includes: Edo, Delta, Ekiti and Ondo States.
He said the NMMP was initiated by the Federal Government aimed at addressing the issue of estimated billings in the electricity industry.
He said the programme will soon get to the Warri axis.
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