From: Ben Dunno, Warri
Over 500 women resident in Effurun, headquarters of Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, took to the streets on Tuesday, to protest alleged negligence by the management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The women barricaded the Effurun/Sapele road, thereby crippling vehicular movements in and out of the commercial city for over three (3) hours.
The protesting women (mostly traders and artisans), trooped out of their homes as early as 7:00a.m brandishing leaves, and matched through some streets within the neighbourhood, chanting songs of displeasure with BEDC management in the area.
They later took a procession to the BEDC office along the Effurun/Sapele road where they blocked the major access road in the city directly opposite the office barricading both sides of the dual carriage way to block all vehicular movement causing heavy gridlock that lasted more than three (3) hours.
Spokesperson of the protesting women, Mrs. Kehinde Ejebubor, lamented the terrible experience residents of the area had been subjected by BEDC staff since the past four months even with all the ‘self help’ contributions made by the residents to BEDC officials towards alleviating the hardship of non electricity supply in the area.
According to her, ” Over four months ago our transformer was bad and BEDC did nothing about it for more than two months. Whenever we complain to them, they let us they do not have the materials to fix it. We resorted to self help and we task each building to contribute five thousand naira each which we gathered and handed over to BEDC officials to fix the transformers”.
“Two months after fixing it, the situation still did not improve. We were told they are going to be rationing the light one day in and one day out, even the one day we are supposed to have power supply, they give us for just one hour and we stay in dark the rest of the day.
“To worsen issues, all those months our transformer was bad and we were in blackout, they still bring us bills in the name of estimations, like myself staying in three bedroom apartment along Alegbo road, they gave me twenty three thousand naira (N23,000) in one of those months our transformer was bad and we ask them how they arrived at the estimation when we never had supplies”.
She further stated that, “Most of us you are seeing here protesting today are into one business or the other that relied on power supply. Some of us are hair dressers, some sell drinks and operates restaurants to assist our husbands at home but we are being frustrated on daily basis due to no electricity supply and we had to go as far as Ugbolokoso, Ugbomro, Uti and other places where there is regular power supply to buy ice blocks to run our businesses”.
“We have being complaining and the management of BEDC had turned deaf ears to our plights and that is why we have decided to stage this peaceful protest to register our grievances with the BEDC management in this area”, she stated.
It, however, took the consented effort of the Council Chairman, Mrs. Stella Dobonor, and the Councilors representing ward 1, Mr. Efe Ani, a prominent community leader and security operatives in Alegbo, Mr. Godwin Ovorie, to agree to vacate the road after the protesters were made to accept the agreement reached with the management of BEDC to hold meeting with the community representative on Wednesday, June 28.
Mr. Ani said he was satisfied with the conduct of the women all through the period the protest lasted as the women conducted themselves in peaceful manner.
The Council Chairperson also said she would personally preside over the meeting today in order to ensure there was a lasting resolution of the face-off between the affected community and the BEDC management.