By Tony Ehighiale, Benin

 

Official activities were disrupted at the headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution   Company (BEDC) by a combined protest against hike in electricity tariff by the organised labour and members of the Civil Societies in Edo State.

Labour, civil societies picket Benin Disco headquarters

By Tony Ehighiale, Benin

 

Official activities were disrupted at the headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution   Company (BEDC) by a combined protest against hike in electricity tariff by the organised labour and members of the Civil Societies in Edo State.

 

The protest caused heavy vehicular traffic along major streets in Benin City.

 

Vehicles were used to block the two entrance gates to the BEDC office while officials of the Red Cross Society were on ground to tackle any emergency.

 

State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Emmanuel Ademokun, said they were at the BEDC premises to cause a reversal of the new electricity price.

 

Ademokun said they would not leave the BEDC premises until the new price is cancelled.

 

His words, “The minister has no power to increase tariff, it should be subject to stakeholders negotiation. He has to meet with stakeholders before any increment. Also all houses in the country must be metered. That was the agreements stakeholders reached with the government in 2013. So they cannot deviate from that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

 

“The crux of the protest as directed by the national body of NLC, TUC and CSO is to protest against the hike in electricity tariffs, discos disobedience to court order not to increase the tariff and went ahead to increase the tariff to 45 percent. We are here for picketing.”

 

State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Charles Oronsaye, said the Discos have refused to obey court orders restraining them from increasing tariff.

 

According to him, “Our message is no to increase of electricity tariff. No to darkness and estimated bills.”

 

“After this warning protest and the federal government fail to obey the court order and agreement of MoU signed with stakeholders we are going to go further.

 

“They are going to see Nigerians coming out stronger. It is going to be like the protest that greeted the increase in fuel subsidy. By then everybody will take to the street.”

 

Officials of the BEDC could not be reached for comments but a source said the firm was in tune with the stand of the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED)

 

The source said ANED described the protest as opportunistic, unwarranted, disruptive and illegal. 

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