By Jolly Adjevwe, Port Harcourt
The epileptic power supply from Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, has tilted the company against communities in Etche local government areas of Rivers state.
Recently, residents of Umuebulu and Ikwere-Ngwo communities in the local government area halted business activities in the areas with a peaceful protest to press home their demands for improve power supply and end to outrageous billings from PHED. For more than 3 hours of the day, business activities were obstructed as both the entrance and exits gates of the company were locked and customers were turned back.
The protesters wielded placards that read: “Billing Without Services is Corruption”, give us prepaid meter or flat rate of N2,000”, “Mr. President proscribe PHED”, we will not pay for darkness”, and PHED 5 minutes on. One week off not acceptable”.
According to Gift Amaka, one of the protesters; residents only have power for few days in a month but at the end of the month a resident occupying just a room could be billed as much as N15,000. This is happening despite the fact that the communities provided transformers, cables, ladders and bought 200 poles for connections done by PHED.
Bright Jeremiah, chairman of the group, said meeting arranged by management of the company and representatives of the protesters that lasted for over two and half hours ended in deadlock. “The meeting is inconclusive because our demands were not carefully looked into. We want our bills to be slashed to N2, 000 per month, release of transformers to us and provision of prepaid meters to address the issue of outrageous bills. But the management said we should pay 50 percent while they look into the extra,” he said
Mr. Jonah Iboma, PHED manager of corporate communications, confirmed that the meetings between the management and protesting communities ended in deadlock but efforts are being made to resolve differences between the two parties.