Irked by what they described as arbitrary electricity bills, the residents of Graceland Estate, Obaile in the outskirt of Akure, the Ondo State capital have sealed off the Akure office of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company  (BEDC).

The residents also accused the company of nonchalance towards improving their services, despite efforts of the landlords and landladies of the estate to meet their obligations.

The card carrying protesters, who occupied the BEDC head office in Akure, as early as 8:30am, locked the entrance gate of the company and refused to allow the workers including the Business Manager, identified as Andrew to enter.

However, soldiers on duty at the BEDC office made efforts to allow some staff to go in to resume their daily duties.

Some of the placards read:” We say no to crazy bills; “We don’t want estimated Billings,” “BEDC, Give us Pre-Paid Meters; BEDC is Cheating Us,” “We Are Ready to Pay for What We Consume,”  among others.

Speaking with journalists, the Chairman of the Graceland Estate, Popoola Martins, said they had paid for prepaid metres but the electricity firm refused to provide the metres.

Mr Popoola accused the BEDC of only interested in collecting electricity bills without maintaining facilities or providing new infrastructure.

“We are here to tell the BEDC that their illegality must stop. We are responsible for buying poles, cables, conductors and even transformers. Their only input is to collect money,” he said.

“We are being given bill of N70,000 to N110,000 monthly per house. That is outrageous. The transformer we procured is yet to be installed. We are here for the world to call the BEDC to order.”

The protesters therefore submitted to the electricity company a four-point letter, which the organisation must meet.

The conditions include stopping the issuance of crazy/estimated billings, supply functional prepaid meters to all houses; immediate installation of the new transformer donated by the state government and removal of the estate from B and E to Band A customers.

Spokesman for the BEDC, Akure branch, Micheal Barnabas, explained that the protesters were not given prepaid metres because they were on B and E.

Barnabas said prepaid metres would be made available to customers in Band E after customers on band A to C have been given metres.

He said customers without metres are billed based on the feeder and tariff band they are linked with.

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