By Gabriel Oghenekaro
Residents of DDPA community in Ughelli/Ogor Kingdom, today protested the continued blackout and alleged sharp practice by an official of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and some notable personalities in the area.
The residents who marched with leaves and placards to the residents of one Chief Osiobe before proceeding to BEDC head office in Ughelli alleged that the said Chief Osiobe alongside some members of the community has been conniving with an official of BEDC whose name was simply given as Uche to continue to plunge the community in total blackout.
Narrating the genesis of the crisis to newsmen, the leader of the protesters, Deacon Lucky Ohwora said they have decided to embark on the protest as all other options to restore electricity supply to the area have failed despite the fact that they have tasked themselves and provided a brand new transformer for their use.
He said, “the issue we are here to address today is something that has lingered for years. About five years ago, due to the expansion of the area as people keeps building, there was the need for us to get a transformer because our area was a new layout.
“We, landlords and residents of the area, under our former chairman, decided to set up a light committee that will drive the contribution for a new transformer and we also decided to open an account with Unity bank for that purpose. Having started the process, millions of naira were realized and the committee purchased and installed a 350KVA transformer.
“However, from when the transformer was installed, it was one repair to the other, we never enjoyed it until it eventually packed up. We went again for another one, the same thing happened. We now decided to ask the committee to give us an account of what is left so that we can know what to contribute to either go for a bigger transformer or get two smaller ones.
“That singular demand was the beginning of the crisis we are having today. When they brought out the account, we discovered a lot of embezzlement have taken place. The whole area now agreed that the committee should be dissolved and a new one set up which we have done, but the problem we are having is that these people have refused to transfer the signatory to the account to the new committee.
“We have taken this matter to the Ughelli Police Area Command, the local government chairman to address this issue, but whenever we agree on anything, once we get back, they will refuse to do it.
“We cannot continue to be in darkness because of some few persons, we in DDPA now decided to contribute money to get a new transformer and install for ourselves pending when the issue of the other account would be finally settled.
“Having succeeded in buying and installing our transformer, they are now fighting us, using the BEDC official that is in charge of the area, one Uche to make sure we wallow in darkness. We wrote to the BEDC management yesterday but we still experience the same challenge, the same Uche came to disconnect the transformer after it was powered yesterday, that is why we have protested to this place today; so that they can address this issue once and for all because we are tired of darkness.”
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the Business Manager who was seen leaving the office on sighting the protesters, the Marketing Manager, Mr. Austin Isibor noted that they were not aware of what was going on in the area until it was brought to their notice yesterday.
He said the area in question was formerly under a different business unit and was only transferred to the Ughelli business unit about a month ago.
He appealed to the protesters to maintain calm as all their concerns have been noted, adding that the issues raised would be properly addressed and continuous supply restored to the area.
Mr. Isibor further assured the DDPA protesters that the management would investigate the allegations against its staff and ensure proper action is taken, adding that no one should disconnect the newly installed transformer until the conclusion of a meeting of all parties which is fixed for Tuesday, 28th September.