By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
A massive protest march against the continuous poor electricity supply to Bida Local Government Area was staged on Thursday, grounding the town to a near halt.
Adults, youth and children in their great numbers, trekked through major roads shouting slogans in protestation against the public power supply company in charge of the state and sent out messages in harsh tunes to the authorities of the company.
Electricity supply to the entire local government area has over the years been channelled via an 11kilowatts of vaults capacity lines which criss-crossed through the length and breadth of the ancient town.
Only late last month, the state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello while on a working visit to the area gave orders to the State Commissioner for Works to ensure that the supply lines of electricity to the entire local government area is up scaled to a 33Kva lines to increase electricity voltage and power supply to the local government area following outcries by citizens in the area.
Generally, Nigerlites have not been having it sweet since the unbundling and sell of the public utility supply company to private individuals for which the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC) won the bid as one of the eleven power distribution companies with Niger, Kogi, Nassarawa and Abuja as it’s catchment areas of coverage.
Concerned citizens from Bida emirate council who penned down their grievances against the AEDC in a strongly worded letter of complaint titled ‘Epileptic Power Distribution in Bida’ handed a warning over to officials of the company during the protest.
The letter detailed agony the citizens have had to go through for close to three years as frequent power cut/load shedding, total blackout and epileptic electricity supply, crazy bills have been their lots.
The protesters alleged that fo 28 months, the entire Bida local government area has had more hours of total blackout than the few minutes of power supply from the national grid.
They accused the AEDC for mindless and unrealistic billing system and cheating on the helpless electricity consumers in the area.
The angry protesters barricaded all entry and exit routes in the ancient city as they matched through pouring invectives on the power distribution company for what they called it’s “senselessness” and “over profiteering” concern over service delivery.
Spokesmen of the protesters said the epileptic power supply over time have led to exodus of people particularly business men/women out of the area as the place was no longer suitable for businesses even as petty businesses such as hair dressing salons, barbers’ shops, iron welders, small cold room operators, hospitality industry operators and homes for residential rent have been pushed out of business.
Bida town and environs are usually high in humidity especially between the months of February and April before the onset of rains. At such periods, fears are heighten over epileptics which are made worst by the heatwave in the face of none existing power supply from the national grid.
The protesters pressed for a better service delivery as they charged “we demand to see better service provided to our people by the AEDC and all Power Generating Companies (GENCOS) operating in Niger state”
The letter jointly signed by Dr. Saganuwan M. U. and Comrade Umar A. Saidu urged management of the companies in the power sector to do something immediately about the bad power supply situation in parts of the state or risk the growing anger of the people.
The protesters, all dressed in black attires, also demanded that the state government through the state House of Assembly must make necessary laws that will compel the Power Generating Companies to set aside certain megawatts of electricity for distribution to the state on first line mandatory distribution to the citizens to serve as power subsidy.
The lamented over the unnecessary delays in distributing the pre-paid meters to enable customers pay for what they consumed and bring to an end extortions orchestrated through the estimated billing system.
The AEDC Regional Corporate Communications Manager, Alhaji Adamu Muhammed, said most of the issues raised by the customers were not peculiar to the state alone and were beyond the capacity of the regional office to redress.
Adamu who exonerated his company from the poor and epileptic electricity supply, said that his company supplies only what was allocated to it for electricity consumers in it’s franchise zone.
He assured the affected and concerned consumers of electricity in the area that their grievances against the poor services by the power supply company would be channeled to the appropriate authorities.