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HOTELIERS IN SAPELE RAISE ALARM OVER HIGHER TARIFFS IN ELECTRICITY BILLS

…Say BEDC Officials Manipulated Systems, Decry Monthly Charges In Excess of N7m

Hoteliers and owners of business concerns in the ancient city of Sapele, headquarters of Sapele local Government are crying out to the government and well meaning individuals to come to their rescue following what they describe as spiraling and outrageous electricity charges by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC that has refused all forms of reasoning.
 
The cries of these hoteliers are hinged on recent hike in electricity for Band A consumers of electricity has resulted in BEDC officials allegedly tampering with power transformers located close to their different entities and reconfiguring the system.

A member of the Association of Hotels Owners, resident in the ancient city who spoke with journalists over the weekend, while pleading that his name should not be mentioned for fear of victimization, said that his monthly consumption bills rose from N300, 000 to over N1.2m. He wondered how his fellow members with larger facilities will be coping as many of them are now paying over N8m-N11m on a monthly basis. He called for understanding, as this will force many to close down their businesses over their inability to meet up with daily expenses and cost of running generating plants to bridge the gap in the epileptic power supply to the town.

Sapele, back in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s was a town that was filled with a beehive of commercial activities is now a shadow of its old self with businesses going under daily with the harsh economic downturn due 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 cannot remove structures built with hard-earned resources but are instead, appealing to government to come to their aid by imploring upon BEDC to address the issue.

Meanwhile, available information reveal 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 Benin Electricity Distribution Company in Sapele, under the watch of Messers Friday Okosun, Austin Isibor and Precious Ogodo has become a huge source of worry to inhabitants.

Further reports also indict the trio of being responsible for the recalibrations 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 #5.9million to #10million for some while others are contending with bills for electricity consumed, from between #11.5m, #14.7m and #17.6m. 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. Is the BEDC saying that the House of Representatives has no powers to intervene?

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