18 March 2014, Benin City – Coalition of civil society organisations in Edo State, yesterday, protested the collection of N750 from customers by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, as monthly charge irrespective of whether the customer enjoys electricity or not.
The protesters, who gathered at the Kings Square, Benin, circulated fliers specifying their grievances against BEDC, some of which include the contentious fixed charge of N750, which it tagged “illegal and an extortion,” failure to supply the 8,000 pre-paid meters already paid for, estimated billings without meter checks and poor power supply even when customers pay monthly electricity bills.
Reacting, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of BEDC, Mrs. Funke Osibodu, explained that the N750 fixed charge represents the capacity charge on customers for power supplied by power generating and transmission firms to the BEDC.
She said: “It is not a Benin DISCO issue, it has been on before now, it is not new. It used to be N500 and was increased to N750 and it will still be increased to N1, 500 this year. Once you are connected to us, you pay a fixed charge every month. But when you don’t have power, you are not authorised to be charged. If we don’t have supply and we get a feedback, it will be refunded, it depends on a period of time not one month.
“Again, understand the importance of fixed charge. Transmission has to work. The generating company will have to make capacity available so there is nothing illegal about it.”
– Simon Ebegbulem, Vanguard