Aramoko- Ekiti has been thrown into darkness. The community has been without electricity for over six months now over alleged unpaid electricity bills running to several millions of naira they owe the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The development has led to disagreement as the parties trade accusations over the alleged debt.
The people of the community insist they are not indebted to BEDC but the electricity company argues otherwise.
The paramount of the town, Oba Olu Adeyemi, the Alara of Aramoko, on Tuesday, led his subjects in protest over the matter and they blockaded the entrance to the community. The monarch said that they were angered because they were among the communities that pay their bills, adding that “the BEDC has not done well by disconnecting us without our knowledge this unjust treatment is part of the insult and injury we are suffering in the hand of BEDC.”
But, the public relations officer of the BEDC, Ekiti State, Mr. Kayode Ilori insisted that Aramoko owed the company a little over N132million. He said that the community’s debt burden had risen to N74million since the take-over by BEDC. He however added that the company, the state government and representatives of the communities were meeting on the development.
Meanwhile, Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Dr. Kolapo Olubunmi Olushola, has appealed to the protesting communities to dismantle the barricades at the entrance of the community and embrace dialogue.
However, Oba Adeyemi told the Deputy Governor that the people of Aramoko were particularly unhappy with BEDC because the company disconnected them from the national grid without the community’s knowledge.
According to the Oba, “Our request is direct: Fayose administration did it before, he connected us to Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), and we were enjoying it. We want him to return us to IBEDC. In terms of payment, we are among the communities that pay our bills.
“BEDC is cheating us. When they give us electricity for five minutes, they would have five hours in their record. We found that they haven’t got measuring rod in this area but they said they have a pool where they take the records from where they distribute the bills. How can we pay for services not rendered? That is one of the problems we have with them.”
However, the deputy governor told the protesters that they were not alone in the problem and said the state had devised a mechanism to resolve the issues.
According to the deputy governor electricity had “become a private affair and the government is only a kind of mediator between the electricity companies and the consumers.
“But when the electricity companies and the consumers refuse to shift ground, there would be problems. The two parties must shift grounds to be able to reach an amicable solution to the problem. When the community insists that without electricity, they would not pay and the electricity company says if they don’t pay, we won’t give them electricity, then the problem will persist.”
He said the state government and the affected communities would set up a committee to be made up of various stakeholders to look into the problem.