Communities in a local government in Ekiti State have endured years-long non-availabity of grid electricity, which has brought adverse effects on the economy of the people.
Ekiti East Local Government Area, which has Omuo as its headquarters, has experienced power blackout since 2016.
Apart from Omuo, the local government consists of other communities such as Ilasa, Omuo-Oke, Ikun, Araromi, Isinbode, Eda-Ile, Kota, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the affected communities, a local leader in Omuo, Taiwo Alonge, told NAN that the electricity problem could be traced to the disconnection of the communities from Kogi State and the reconnection, afterwards in 2016, to Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
Mr Alonge also added that the issue of accumulated bills came up when the communities’ new supplier, BEDC, said residents were indebted to the company to the tune of N75 million.
He said BEDC told the communities that they would have to clear the debt before electricity could be restored to the area.
NAN learnt that when the issue of accumulated bills came up, the leaders had a dialogue with the communities and an agreement was reached to the effect that each household would be charged N3,000 to settle the debts. However, less than a quarter of the required sum of N75 million was raised.
Another resident, who only identified himself as Mr Fatoyinbo, said, “the bills were too exorbitant, and there were no specific modalities to pay the bills from the bulk meter.”
“You don’t expect an old woman using just a bulb to contribute the same amount with a carpenter or welder,” said Mr Alonge.
“We are badly affected,” lamented Mr Fatoyinbo. “Carpenters and Welders, who are supposed to work don’t have light. We are badly affected.”
Deji Ajiboye, a saw miller in Omuo, narrated his experience. “It’s been a huge challenge because we now use three times the litres of diesel we used when there was light. We buy 20 litres of diesel in a day which amounts to about N4,000 then. But now, we buy close to 60 litres in a day which is around N15,000. This is grossly affecting the profit we are making.
“Four months ago, when they came with the bulk metre claiming there will be light, we were so happy that our boss hurriedly went to buy poles to pass wire to our new site but up til now we’re yet to see anything.
“When we wrote to the state government, they claimed the distribution company is independent and not in its jurisdiction, as the federal government has sold it to a private company, though we also learnt they are taking steps on it.”
In a statement made available to NAN Olayinka Oyebode, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Kayode Fayemi, He said: “This administration came on board in October 2018 and realised that some communities were without power supply for the past three to four years. What the government did, after listening to the side of the communities was to call for a meeting with the top officials of BEDC.
“The electricity supplying company gave several reasons for the situation. Reasons cited include huge indebtedness by some communities, vandalization of facilities among others.
“The Governor who led the State officials to the meeting in his office in Ado Ekiti directed BEDC to rectify the issue. The company swung into action immediately. The company linked about five of such communities back to the national grid. Work is still ongoing on the other communities.”