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UNIBEN, Edo communities decry power outage, high electricity bill

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Businesses and organisations including tertiary institutions like University of Benin (UNIBEN) have resorted to load shedding following rise in electricity bills as a result of the recent hike in tariff.

UNIBEN, through its spokesperson, Benedicta Ehanire, in a statement, entitled ‘Update on Power Supply to University Community’, said it could no longer cope with the new tariff, which resulted in a consumption of N280 million in April 2024.

The university revealed that it had entered into negotiation with Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) over the development.
“It has become necessary to bring to the notice of the Provost, Deans, Directors and members of the university community, the adverse consequences resulting from the 340 per cent increment on electricity tariff by NERC, particularly to Band A consumers where the university is currently connected.

“Our April bill is about N280 million, up from the former bill of about N80 million. Therefore, management is left with no other option but load shedding to reduce cost while negotiation continues with BEDC. Normalcy in power supply will be restored as soon as negotiations are concluded. Management appreciates your usual support, understanding, and regrets any inconveniences the increment may have caused you,” the institution lamented.

Similarly, residents of Idunmwuowina, Igue-Iheya Iguosa, Ewomore and Uwelu to Ojo street axis decried months-long power outage in their communities. A resident, Kingsley Okorie, who spoke with The Guardian, described BEDC as ‘heartless’ for putting the communities in darkness for over nine months. Okorie, who lamented that Idunmwuowina, Igue-Iheya Iguosa and Ewomore including Iyowa communities, all in Ovia North East Local Council, have been without power supply for over nine months, appealed to relevant authorities to call BEDC to order.

He noted that residents in the communities were suffering the outage and that the community is mostly inhabited by staff and workers of UNIBEN and University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

Okorie, a staff of UNIBEN, said the crisis had increased crime and criminality in the affected communities, with small businesses suffering the most while tenants had relocated to other communities.

According to him, the power situation in Idunmwuowina, Igue-Iheya Iguosa and Ewomore, including Iyowa communities showed that BEDC had weaponised darkness.
The Guardian learnt that most of the transformers in the affected communities had been vandalised by criminal elements, following several months of power outage.

Another resident in Uwelu community in Egor Local Council, Obi Chikodi, lamented the abysmal performance of BEDC in the area. He said the distribution company (DisCo) had failed in its mandate to ensure adequate power supply to the people, particularly in Ojo street axis.

He said: “Edo State government has done so much to transform Uwelu community to an urban area by building link roads from Ugbowo to Uwelu, through Ojo and Adolor College via Nineteen street, directly to UNIBEN and UBTH.and connecting Uwelu to Ogida market and Siluko road through Teachers House in Egor near Ogida Barracks.

But BEDC has left the place in darkness by denying the residents power supply.” When contacted, Head, Branding and Corporate Communications of BEDC, Evelyn Gbiwen, said the power outage in Iguosa and environs was as a result of a failed 7.5MVA power transformer at Iguosa.

She added that BEDC’s management was working round the clock to ensure that the failed transformer is replaced and that, “soonest, Iguosa and other surrounding communities will be reconnected to the grid.”

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