Blackmail From BEDC
AGAINST the background of the seemingly poor and epileptic power supply problem in Ondo State, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC in its characteristic manner of extorting and exploiting the masses, two weeks ago sent a damning but vexatious and provocative text messages to customers, ”Your meter No 124567980 average monthly vending is less than 100 units(B3), which is very low considering average availability. Vend suitably to avoid disconnection”
OF course, the question must be asked how this electricity company sank into this ignoble, shameful and dishonorable act when all the efforts and resources invested in the electricity sector have proven a colossal waste to the extent that little has changed in services delivery since the company took over electricity supply to people of the state.
IT is a common phenomenon that majority of residents of Ondo state live in perpetual darkness due to the incompetence of BEDC management. Like slaves, the people continually suffer and grumble in silence. The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) that is constitutionally empowered to address complaints and protect people is “invisible.” to curb the greedy excesses of the company.
THE recent text message from BEDC to say the least is an embarrassment, insultive and an invitation to crisis from the company that capitalises on every opportunity to arm twist the people to pay exorbitant money on monthly basis but live in darkness.
WHAT is the importance of a meter? Is it not to measure consumption and determine the cost? Whose fault it is when a customer does not finish his megabyte monthly? It is apparent that BEDC lack professionalism and it is gambling with the right of the people. It is a shame that an organization that has subscription from different categories of customers would harass them for not paying for darkness? This action is nothing but provocation of the highest order.
WE therefore condemn the text message from BEDC which is another blackmail to force customers to part with their money. The unsolicited message is a fragrant abuse of customers/business relationship and actually an infringement on their fundamental rights.
HERE is a service provider which could not provide meter for its teeming customers but decided to hoard the meter for its selfish end. BEDC knows that customers are in dire need of the prepaid meters, the reason why the company is coming out with this spurious and unsolicited blackmail.
BEDC action is like portraying the political landscape as unsafe and by the text message, the unproductive company is putting the will of the people to test. The action of the company portends great danger to our present nascent democracy, for when people’s patience is overstretched to elastic level, it may snap and lead to crisis.
THE HOPE therefore calls on government to investigate the spurious motive behind the text message which if not checked is a direct, invitation to crisis in the state. Government should therefore take proactive action on the latest exploitative text message before it degenerates to multiple crises.
IT is our view that time is ripe for consumers to protect their rights when they are infringed upon by service providers. It is sad that government has shown indifference to the plight of the people, otherwise service providers like BEDC and their cohorts that had under performed and thrown many into darkness for several years, should have been out of business or its license withdrawn. Instead, despite the company’s unenviable performance, it now has the effrontery to send messages to people threatening them to pay for services which they have not rendered.
CONSUMERS are encouraged to form themselves into protection organisations to discourage exploitation under any guise and where necessary take legal action to protect their interest. Our position is that keeping silent in the face of injustice and flagrant disregard to their rights is not in their best interest. They will have to stand and defend their rights.
BEDC should open customer complaint centres across all the local government areas in the state where people can express their grievances. This would enable them guage people’s feeling appropriately and avoid distorted information from their staff.
WE equally enjoin people to make use of the window provided by the Public Complaints Commission to ventilate their frustration. This, if done appropriately, will curb the exploitation tendencies of the electricity providers and make them more responsible to the people.