THE Managing Director of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Mrs Funke Osibodu yesterday in Benin gave reasons for the power cut which has plunged almost every part of the Edo State capital of Benin into darkness in the last one month.
Also, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh dispelled charges by some civil society organisations that the operating licences of electricity distribution companies in the country for have expired and are due for renewal by the federal government.
Mrs Osibodu told journalists that the disruption in power supply to Benin which has almost grounded commercial activities in the metropolis was caused by a recent failed 60 MVA power transformer T23 used by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to wheel electricity to major feeders in the city.
He traced the genesis of the disruption which occurred on November 7 to an attempt by the maintenance crew which was clearing shrubs close to the substation and a branch from a tree fell and tripped the primary and secondary breakers of the T21 60MVA, 132/33KV transformer.
While assuring that BEDC and TCN are jointly working on the process to repair the transformer and arrange a backup, she said that the relay setting at TCN ends to stop impact on the transformer.
The neighbourhoods affected Evbuotubu, Oliha, Uwelu, Ikpoba dam, Okhoro, Upper Lawani and the Government Reserved Area (GRA) while Upper Sakpoba, Nekpenekpen, Idogbo, Ekae, Andrew Wilson. Etete and Ugbowo presently get partial services.
The BEDC boss faulted Edo state Governor Godwin Obaseki over his directive on November to the people of Ihonvbor, Uhunmwonde local government area, the host of the 1,500 MW to arrest officials of the electricity the company who allegedly removed a transformer from the community.
According to her, the idle transformer which was was inherited from the federal government following the purchase in 2013 was merely moved to Ubiaja, headquarters of Esan South East local government when the transformer there broke down.
She charged that the decision to move the controversial transformer to Ubiaja was done with the full involvement and documentation which was signed with the traditional institution and leaders of Ihonvbor community in order to avoid youth disturbance.
Mrs Osibodu added that when the existing 2.5MVA transformer in the community broke down in October of last year, the electricity company promptly provided a replacement transformer from another source.
She insisted: “BEDC reiterates that the recent information as purportedly claimed to be given out by the governor was not correct and misleading. If the transformer is stolen, it infers that the federal government represented by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) sold stolen transformer as part of the assets to BEDC. This cannot be further from the truth.”
Okoh who spoke alongside Mrs Osibodu explained that performance agreement review which is the review of the performance benchmarks of the Discos and is the responsibility of the BPE is quite different from licencing of Discos, which he said is the business of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
According to him, under the sale agreement, the Discos and BPE, the requirements of the performance agreement, January 2015 became the start day for the calculation of the performance review period for the Discos, which essentially means that the fifth year anniversary date for the review of the performance agreement will be December 31, 2019 and not November 1, 2018.
“The Bureau has been drawn to certain erroneous information over the purported renewal of the licences issued to the Discos. I have had to explain the issues around the operations of the Discos, not only to dispel the rumours and innuendos around the revocation or otherwise of the operating licences of Discos.
“The government respects contracts and would not do anything to jeopardise the operations of companies that the federal government had willingly entered into agreement s with, including Discos.
“The BPE on behalf of the federal government wishes to State categorically that there is nothing like ongoing in terms of the contract or license renewal for any of the 11 Distribution Companies (Discos).”