Over 2,000 protesters from Mosogar Community in Ethiope West Local Government of. Delta State, Monday, took over the Benin-Warri Highway in protest of seven years of darkness the community has been into.
The protesters comprising women and youths were seen displaying placards with several inscriptions that chronicled their woes allegedly caused by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). This was as they demanded that the federal government withdraw the company’s operational licence over incompetence.
The protest which started as early as 6 am at the Mosogar Junction along the Warri-Benin Highway, culminated in a traffic gridlock that lasted about five hours.
They narrated how all efforts they had made to restore electricity to the community met brick wall even as they described the BEDC as a rent collector who only collects electricity bills without investing to improve its distribution infrastructure.
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One of the youth leaders who spoke to newsmen during the protest, Ashe Kingsley, said that the community has been in darkness for over 7 years and all our efforts to bring power to the community have been thwarted by BEDC, “so we are protesting against the darkness.
The Community President-General, Columbus Akporoka, said that though the Delta Stste Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa kept to his part of the promise to provide transformers to power the community, the contractor handling the project is a bit slow and the project is about 80% completed. I think the youth are restless, he expressed.
He, however, called on the protesters to exercise patience and assured them that they would ensure that the contractor speed up the job.
Adding his voice, a former Ethiope West council chairman, Wilson Omene said the power issue was now becoming a thing of extortion, with some of the community leaders demanding cash at every given point.
Let them tell us where we stand, you can’t expect us to buy a transformer and donate it to BEDC, he fumed.
Continuing, he said, We wrote to BEDC, National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and other government agencies.
“We have met with BEDC for a way forward, but all to no avail. We are paying our bills and it is the duty of the service provider to replace any damaged installation.
He also alleged that contractor of the project was working for some faceless politicians to the detriment of the Mosogar people.
Adekunle Tayo, the head of BEDC Corporate Affairs, Benin City, while responding to the issue said the Delta State government has awarded the power installation project to a contractor, adding that, “we are not aware of the contractor has finished the project or not.”