By Lucky Isibor
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC has been waging a relentless war against vandalization of its equipment as a way of improving the power supply to it’s customers.
The Head of the Corporate Affairs, Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc (BEDC), Mr. Adekunle Tayo disclosed this in an interview with news men in Benin City.
Vandalism of power equipment is a social menace that robs electricity service providers of the needed revenue generation that ought to have been deployed in network expansion rather than on replacement of vandalised equipment.
Worse still, customers suffer the most by having to undergo the unnecessary inconveniences of blackouts while industries and small-scale businesses owners are forced to shut-down or scale down their production capacity so as to cope with the effects of independent provision of power supply through generators.
According to Adekunle, “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 transformer had always been their prime target in most instances, adding that, “they steal the cables and in some rare instances, completely dismantle and reduces it to a bare skeleton after their strike”.
According to him, “though daunting as the challenge may be, the tide has been 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 of electricity installations in their domains.”
He explained that in the past, BEDC staff used to be the major prime suspect who has always been alleged to be responsible for the stealing or damaging its own electricity equipment when a case 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 fact speaks for itself, most of the suspects that had been so far arrested and prosecuted have never at any time had anything to do with the power industry”.
According to the image maker of the BEDC, “in a bid for the company to tackle this issue headlong, it has 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 enlightenment 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 with convictions that 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 enlightenment, the modus operandi would stop at nothing to help the company win the war against these vandals.
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