BENIN ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY (BEDC) MOVES TO CURB VANDALISM.
ALEX OGWEMHO, BENIN
Vandalism of power equipment is a social menace that robs electricity service providers of the needed impact of the revenue generated which rather than being deployed in network expansion is now used to replace vandalised equipment.
Worse still, customers suffer the most by having to undergo the unnecessary inconveniences of blackouts while industries and small-scale business owners are forced to shut-down or scale down their production capacity so as to cope with the resultant additional cost infusions that necessarily arise as a result of the concomitant shift to independent provision of power supply through generators.
The Head of the Corporate Affairs, Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc (BEDC), Mr. Adekunle Tayo who disclosed these in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Benin, said, “these social miscreants operate with reckless abandon in their nefarious activities which reverses whatever gains the electricity distribution company has achieved over a period of time in the provision of stable and steady power supply to our customers”.
He noted with dismay that the transformers had always been their prime target in most instances, adding that, “they steal the cables and in some rare instances, completely dismantle and reduce it to a bare skeleton after their strikes”.
According to him, “though daunting as the challenge may be, the tide however now seems to be turning against the vandals of late as evidenced in the arrest and successful prosecution of some of these miscreants which was made possible through the company’s collaborative partnership with communities who are now more vigilant and security conscious as regards electricity installations in their domains.”
He explained that in the past, BEDC used to be the major prime suspect that has always been alleged to be responsible for the stealing or damaging of its own electricity equipment when cases of vandalism occurred.
“The public had this erroneous belief that the company’s workers should be held responsible for any act of vandalism since they are the ones they believed have the sole knowledge of the electricity business. But the facts speak for itself, as most of the suspects that have been so far arrested and prosecuted have never at any time had anything to do with the formal power industry”.
According to the Head image maker of the BEDC, “in a bid for the company to tackle this issue headlong it has had to invest a lot of energies in sensitizing the public at various fora on the effects of vandalism on its operations and the need for members of the public to take ownership of installations in their domains. This is by being watchful and never to hesitate to report suspicious movements around the facilities to the nearest BEDC or Police station.”
“It is on record that BEDC some time ago won the war against electricity vandals when one John Joshua (25) and Yakubu Irish (28) were apprehended as transformer vandals by the community members located within around Oko Central Road, Benin City”, he recalled.
He said the two vandals caught in the act were accordingly arraigned, prosecuted and sentenced to six months imprisonment on a two count charge of “malicious damage and stealing” at the Oredo Magistrate Court before Chief Magistrate I. U. Iyoha, (Mrs.).
Also, he said one Abdullahi Usman, aged 27 years was caught around September, 2017 at Iguobazuwa in Benin too while in attempt to cart away vandalized conductor cable and subsequently sentenced to 5-year jail term.
Today, said Mr. Tayo, “members of the public now become critical stakeholders in the fight against these social miscreants which represents nothing but evils in our society. It is interesting to note that most of the vandals arrested in recent times were made possible through the efforts of vigilant members of the public”.
He attributed this as a testament to the sustained education and enlightment of the company on the need for strong community based partnerships to wipe out this social menace.
As part of the BEDC designed programme to encouraging vigilance and ownership in preventing vandals, the Community Relations Department recently honoured members of Idahagbon Community in Edo State and Otokuta Community in Delta respectively for their loyalties, awareness and responsibility in fighting electricity equipment vandals in their domains.
He noted that the convictions already secured in the various law courts against these vandals would serve as deterrent to others that crime does not pay and with the huge awareness and more enlightment, the modus operandi would stop at nothing to help the company win the war against these vandals.
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa