No fewer than 13 persons including two dismissed soldiers, attached to Operation Doyle, battling the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno state, have been paraded for alleged involvement in crimes including the theft of a gas turbine worth about 7.2 billion Naira, owned by the Bayelsa state government.
The Bayelsa state government had purchased these gas turbines to aid in the provision of electricity for the indigenes and residents of Etelebou community of Gbarain in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
This, according to the government, was in order to complement the power output of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED).
The timely arrival of the Police made the arrest possible, while five trucks containing vandalized turbine, were recovered.
Asides those involved in the robbery, nine other suspects who were alleged to be involved in kidnapping were also paraded.
Meanwhile, the newly posted Commissioner of Police, Amba Asuoquo, also disclosed the arrest of a car theft syndicate.
Although the Bayelsa state government has prescribed a death penalty for kidnappers, it is yet to be determined what the fate of the arrested suspects would be as they are yet to be officially declared guilty.
The Port Harcourt metropolis was on Monday morning thrown into unwarranted darkness by fierce looking youths from Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
According to the spokesman for the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), Mr John Onyi, the incident occurred when a Federal Government facility under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) located inside Afam was forcefully shut and barricaded by the youths.
Mr Onyi noted in a statement that not only was the station shut down, but the technical men on duty were also chased away, leading to their inability to transmit power to PHED for onward distribution to its customers.
“On check, it was gathered that one of the highly politically exposed persons who resides within the area was responsible for the youths’ action on the ground that his feeder was placed on load shedding.
“The parochial action of the youth is becoming habitual and very embarrassing. Recall that late last year on two occasions, the same youths from Oyigbo blocked the source of supply to Port Harcourt metropolis.
“The action of the youth if unabated will continue to plunge Port Harcourt city into unnecessary darkness.
“The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) condemns in its entirety, taking laws into hand – posture of the youth – and hereby, draws the attention of the law enforcement agencies in particular and the Rivers State Government to come to the aid of PHED and the good people of the state to intervene and put a final stop to this frequent disruption of power distribution to customers,” the statement read.
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) is proposing that electricity users in Port Harcourt and Yenagoa metropolis that by-pass meters and reconnect themselves illegally should first be arrested before they are disconnected.
The spokesperson of the PHED, Sophilia Obire, said offenders arrest would discourage people from deliberately engaging in the fraudulent behaviour of by-passing installed meters.
A statement by Obire read: “The fact is that there have been too much stories of attacks on Disco Officials whose only crime is carrying out their legitimate duties. Fine, there are challenges in the electricity industry that needs to be addressed, it is a Nigerian problem and the Power Sector is tackling it.
“But to become outlaws as a result of this challenges and instigate a dog attack on a Disco official is taking it too far.
“The bane of meter by-pass, re-connection, power theft and vandalism has troubled the power industry and in a sense, we all are guilty one way or the other.
“While the Discos have fought the later ills with security agencies, only immediate disconnections seems to be the solution for customers who by-pass meters.
“This has constantly make them prey to customers who think nothing of their actions”.
Obire further suggested that customers who by-pass meters, re-connect themselves illegally should first be arrested before being disconnected, insisting that the practice would create sanity in the system and call the attention of the offender to the implications of their actions”.
Journalists in Bayelsa State are raising concerns over the estimated electricity billing system of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, describing it as a rip-off.
The leadership of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, issued a statement signalling their displeasure with the estimated billing system.
The group of correspondents working for national media operating in Bayelsa state also called on the Management of PHEDC to immediately commence the supply of pre-paid meters to customers to end the era of extortion by way of arbitrary skyrocketed bills.
This statement is coming on the heels of numerous complaints by consumers in Yenagoa on the alleged inefficiency in the system.
Citing the case of exorbitant monthly estimated bill of between 5,000 Naira and 6,000 Naira at its chapel Secretariat on Toolda road, Ekeki, Yenagoa, the Chairman of the Correspondent’s Chapel and Secretary, Comrade Kola Oredipe and Comrade Chris Eze, said the bill was unjustifiably high.
In a statement by the chapel officers, they expressed worry at the attitude of the PHEDC officials who are always anxious to disconnect debtors.
“Sometime in July this year, the office was disconnected and we decided not to pay for two months. Of course, we decided to rely solely on alternative power source since the public power source was rather irregular. But to our surprise, electricity bills were brought for the two months period that the office was without public power.
“By the time we visited the PHEDC Business Office in Yenagoa, we were told that we ought to have notified them that we would not use their source for that period. We were shocked more so that PHEDC should have record of houses/buildings disconnected,” the statement read.
It further confirmed the inefficiency in PHEDC when the Correspondent’s chapel office was disconnected on Thursday, December 8 despite the fact that we have cleared current bill and part of outstanding as directed.
“When we met with the Yenagoa Business Manager on Monday, 12th December 2016 to complain that the office was erroneously and ignorantly disconnected, he offered his apology and directed a senior officer to ensure immediate reconnection.
“One full week has passed without reconnection despite a reminder call to the Business Manager on Wednesday, 14th December, 2016. This is clearly a case of sheer lack of insensitivity. We do hope that the office will not be billed for electricity not consumed from the 8th December, 2016,” the statement read.
The reporters called on the state government to protect the citizens from ongoing extortion in the name of bulk billing, estimated billing, unjustified disconnection, harassment of customers, and billing of a house that has been disconnected.
They particularly noted that some of the electricity consumers often complained of late response to clearing of faults, replacement of bad transformers by the distribution company and reconnection thereby making the customers lose trust in PHEDC.
The statement was issued and signed by the Chairman of the chapel, Kola Oredipe.
The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has set February 2017 as deadline to deliver on a 21 megawatts Calabar power plant, as part of his determination to ensure that the Calabar metropolis has 24/7 uninterrupted power supply.
Speaking during his routine inspection of the ongoing construction work at the site along the Parliamentary Extension in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital, Ayade explained that the power plant is a new technology which is cost effective.
Excited about the level of work done so far, Ayade said: “as you can see, there is massive construction work going on here at the site, we are putting the structural base for the installation of the 21 megawatt power turbines that have already been delivered on site.
“We have set February 17, 2017 as deadline to deliver uninterrupted 24/7 power supply to Calabar metropolis. With this singular effort, Calabar will be the first capital city to have uninterrupted power supply in the country”.
Speaking further he said, “the good thing is that this is the product and manifestation of the several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), I had signed early last year and today, we are at the construction stage to deliver on this all important project.
“As you can see, there is so much energy as several young men are already engaged and we are making plans to engage some of them permanently as maintenance staff after the construction.”
Ayade then revealed that the project was a Public Private Partnership (PPP) as the state was working in partnership with a Brazilian/American firm, which is also collaborating with the Cross River State Power Company “to establish and deliver on this world class independent embedded power plant here in Calabar.”
Offering further insight, the governor stated that he would ensure that “no contractor is paid until he meets the mile stones set.
“So, if you bring me an IPC, I must check to ensure that you have delivered as declared by the agencies concerned before you receive your payment.
“Secondly, I am driven by the passion and determination, which is why I am always on site instead of sitting in the office. This is rather very alien to me and that is why I am on site daily to ensure that we catch the pace because money is scarce, every little kobo will be accounted for.”
He expressed excitement that work is being done according to specification and approved designs.
Ayade assured residents that the state had concluded arrangement with Lilleker and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, to ensure uninterrupted power supply especially during the annual Calabar Carnival.
“In line with this effort, the state has provided 88 new transformers across the city centre for improved power supply to ensure that all parts of Calabar are lit during the yuletide.
He then used the opportunity to invite Nigerians to the festival.
“Let me use this opportunity to invite every Nigerian to stop searching for scarce dollars for overseas trips and come to Calabar for the festival and Carnival.
“We have everything you are looking for, hospitality, love, good treatment, everything you can think of is here in Calabar,” the governor said.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PHEDC has said that consumers may not have to pay more with efficient energy management as the new electricity tariffs kick in.
The CEO of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), Jay McCoskey, said this in an interactive session with reporters in Rivers State, south-south Nigeria.
He explained that although the new tariffs have been introduced, consumers may in the long run not have to pay more with the introduction of energy efficient solutions such as special light bulbs into the market to help users manage their consumption.
The Head of Customer Service, PHEDC, Godwin Orovwiroro, also called for an informed dissemination of details on the new tariffs to encourage public corporation.
The PHEDC went on to explain how the new regime would allow consumers to determine their final bills based on actual consumption.
The company noted that it would intensify its mass metering programme as studies have shown that with the prepaid meters, electricity users consume between 12 – 15 per cent less electricity than those using the post-paid meters.
The PHEDC, which runs its services across Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states is making the announcement ahead of the new electricity tariff to begin on February 1.
Residents in Port Harcourt are worried over the electricity bills they are made to pay by the Electricity Distribution Company in the state.
Some of the residents said, though they have prepaid meters, the PHCN officials are never available to read them .
They are more concerned that the bills they get are always over estimated.
Meanwhile, the Manager Corporate Communications, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, head quarters of 4 south south states, Jonah Iboma explained that the billing system is regulated by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission and is always based on categories of consumption.
Mr. Boma also pointed out that bills estimation are calculated on points of electricity usage.