Mkpoikana Udoma 02 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Residents of three communities have shut the operations of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, in Eligbolo, Obio/Akpor Local Government of Rivers State, over poor power supply.
The residents of the three communities, namely Eligbolo, Rumunduru and Eliozu cited epileptic power supply, outrageous bills and failure of the Port Harcourt Disco to employ indigenes of the community in the company.
The protesters, numbering over 200 while barricading the entrance of the PHEDC administrative office called Garden City New Integrated Business Centre in Eligbolo, said their businesses have been paralysed due to the epileptic power supply in the area.
Leader of the protest and Youth President of Eligbolo community, Mr. Kelvin Nwanwa, complained that PHEDC management has failed to employ indigenes of the community into the company.
Nwanwa alleged that PHEDC has declined all entry for dialogue with community, adding that the community was becoming deserted due to the absent of power supply.
“We are the host community, yet no employment, no artisan. I challenge them to show us one person from Eligbolo community that works with PHEDC, not even an electrician, driver or cleaner. In fact, we are not even talking about employment again, what we just want now is power supply.
“In Eligbolo, Rumuokoro, Rumunduru and Eliozu, we don’t usually have power supply, yet they (PHEDC) will come for disconnections, especially from 21st of the month. Our neighbouring communities like Eneka and Rumukpakulusi do have steady power supply; the situation is so terrible that tenants have started packing out of our communities.”
For his part, the Chairman, Community Development Committee of Rumunduru community, Mr. Wonodi Ovondah, called on the management of PHEDC to address the issue of outrageous billing even without power supply.
“It is a peaceful demonstration to register our displeasure and dissatisfaction on the way we are being treated by PHEDC, we have been having very epileptic power supply but by the end of the month, we will see outrageous bills, now how do they come about these bills?” he queried.
When contacted, the management of PHEDC said the demand for a 24hours power supply is not possible because the disco gets only 6.5percent from what is generated into the national grid.
The Spokesperson of PHEDC, Mr. John Onyi, said the company was trying to deload the feeder covering the three communities, and a reconciliation team has also been set up to look into the issue of over estimated billing.
“In PHEDC we don’t talk about host community because community is a host community; we get power from Kanji, Shiroro, Afam etc. We have a total of 9018 transformers and 209 of 11KV feeds in our four states of operation.
“When it comes to employment we don’t give any state preferential treatment but we ensure that every state we are operating on is equally represented. PHEDC is a private company but the government through BPE has 40percent equity.
“On estimated billing, we have agreed to set up a reconciliation team to find out if their account were truly over-estimated, and we shall adjust if the team finds out that they(communities) were indeed over-billed.”