Delta: Outrageous electricity tariff hike, worries hotelier other business owners in Sapele hike

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By Achadu Gabriel

Hoteliers and concerned business owners in the ancient city of Sapele, headquarters of Sapele LGA of Delta state have cried out for what they described as outrageous exploitative electricity charges by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, (BEDC).

The victims mainly hoteliers and business owners are calling for relevant government authorities and well meaning individual’s intervention to come to their rescue following BEDC’s deliberate refusal to reason with them despite the outcry.

Findings revealed that the action is coming on heels of recent tariffs hike for Band A consumers of electricity, resulting in BEDC officials allegedly manipulating and tampering with power transformers located close to their different entities and reconfiguring the system.

A member of the Association of Hotels Owners (AHOs), and residents of the ancient city who spoke with journalists over the weekend, in confidence, for fear of victimization, said that his monthly consumption bills rose from N300, 000:00 to over N1.2 million monthly.

While he expressed wonder how his fellow members with larger facilities would be coping, he alleged that many of them are now paying over N8 million -N11million on a monthly basis.

He called for understanding, adding that situation may forced many to closedown their businesses premises over inability to meet up with daily expenses and cost of running generating plants to bridge the gap also in the epileptic power supply to the town.

According to him, Sapele town, which, in the late 60s, 70s and 80s, was a beehive of commercial activities is now a shadow of itself with businesses going down on daily basis owing to the harsh economic downturn in addition to the absence of adequate power supply to the town.

“The presence of the Ogorode Power Plant, notwithstanding, has been a huge minus, as they cannot boast of steady six hours daily power supply. To make matters worse, BEDC has become a thorn in the flesh of the inhabitants.

“The unfavourable business environment has compelled many to relocate their businesses elsewhere in order to survive.

“Sadly, hotel owners cannot adopt a similar approach considering the fact that they’re immovable structures built with hard-earned resources, and are therefore appealing to government to come to their aid by prevailing on BEDC to address the issue”, it stated.

Meanwhile, available information revealed that BEDC officials have insisted that there is no going back in the tariff hike and not even government or anybody can reverse their decision.

“The high handedness of the management of the BEDC in Sapele, under the watch of Messers Friday Okosun, Austin Isibor and Precious Ogodo has become a huge source of worry to inhabitants”, the alleged.

Further reports also indict the trio of being responsible for the recalibration of the power transformers in the city as, sometime in the year 2022, a pretentious energy tracing team from BEDC visited some Band A consumers sub-station located within the premises of some industries such as Hotels and Eateries.

“Their mission was to compromise the Maximum Demand Meter (MD) affixed to the transformer to make them read faster and increase the units of energy consumed.

“Their action resulted in very high billing of all Band A consumers as they all started receiving over 300% of their former bills.

“For example, hotels that use to consume 10,000 units jumped to 34,000, 39,000, 40,000 units and above without any additional new building, no new equipment but with the same volume of patronage.

“The bills also increased from 600k, 1.4m, 1.9m, 2.5m, 2.9m 3.2m monthly. While these hospitality industries were groaning under these huge bills, Mr. Okosun, the regional manager, decided to implement the recently hike in tariff by the Minister of Power, from 67.45 to 225 naira per unit of energy consumed”, another Hotel owner lamented.

“The April bills for hotels ranges from N5. 9 million to N10 million for some while others are contending with bills for electricity consumed, from between N11.5m, N14.7m and N17.6m.

“The Hotels Owners Association drew the attention of the BEDC management to the ongoing debate at the National Assembly and the NLC negotiations with the Federal Government.

“We pleaded that we will pay the bills but with the old tariff rate of 67.45 pending the outcome of the actions the the legislators and Labour. They agreed. To our greatest dismay, after making payments, Mr. Okosun still went ahead to give a directive to disconnect supply without notice, insisting that we must make payment in full.

‘The question is, how does he expect that a Hotel located in Sapele would be to pay 11.5m for electricity every month? Who will save Hotel owners in Sapele?

Recall that, in trying to broker a peaceful resolution of the situation between the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, the Federal House of Representatives had called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to suspend forthwith the implementation of the new electricity tariff nationwide.

The question consistently asked by many without corresponding answer, is whether “The BEDC is saying that the HoR has no powers to intervene? Your answer is as good as mine.


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