BEDC Electricity Plc (BEDC), has decried the rising cases of vandalism across its franchise zone which it says aside being an economic crime is an act of sabotage against the good purpose and intents of the company, canvassing that the effects of vandalism should stimulate tougher laws to be enforced to protect public property, especially electricity infrastructure.
This information was made available by the company in a press statement signed by the Head, Corporate Affairs, Mr Adekunle Tayo, where he appealed to members of the public on the need to be vigilant and security conscious on the activities of some unruly elements in the society whose aim is to make life unbearable for them through their nefarious acts.
According to BEDC, the power sector has been the most hit in the most devastating manner and the effect of vandalism cannot be over emphasized as residential customers, industries, small and medium scale businesses are being starved of power as a result of the activities of vandals.
‘’The recent surge in cases of vandalism within our franchise area calls for greater attention. More worrisome is the fact that these miscreants are continuously innovating new ideas beyond human comprehension to perpetrate their criminal acts. We see the recent vandalism of 14 spans of electricity conductors in Ilu-titun, Southern Ondo state, on a line currently being rehabilitated by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) as very disturbing. More disturbing is the fact that Okitipupa town was recently thrown into blackout as a result of the vandalism of 20 spans of electricity conductors which occurred between Ode-Aye and Okitipupa. As a company, we see these as acts of economic sabotage against the good intents of BEDC,” he remarked.
According to Mr Tayo, BEDC regrets the situation whereby the money that could have been judiciously invested on network upgrade such as energisation of new transformers or construction of new lines to relief existing ones would now be channelled towards replacing the vandalised items. It is indeed unfortunate that revenue that could be used for critical development projects are being used to restore damaged and stolen equipment.
‘’We are however not relenting in our quest to overcome this societal issue through improved community relations drive of involving all stakeholders at the grassroots aside ensuring that our facilities are well secured in our bid to arrest this ugly trend,” the statement added.
Vandalism of electricity distribution network and other forms of electrical thefts are serious threats to power sector sustainability and economic growth and have been major acts negatively affecting service delivery to customers.
Efforts by BEDC at curbing the menace of vandalism on its network had received a boost with the sentencing of one David James to three years imprisonment by a Benin Magistrate Court 6 in Egor Local Government area of Edo state recently.
On 3rd July 2021, a 2.5MVA, 33/11KV Injection Substation at Igarra near Auchi, in Edo state was vandalized while RUM, upriser cables, incomer cables etc. were removed by the vandals.
However, luck ran out of the vandals as they were arrested by the Police Division at Ogorimagogo in Kogi State and the stolen items were recovered. The arrested suspects were later transferred to SCID Lokoja, while efforts are being made by the Edo State Police Command to retrieve the arrested suspects and exhibits to Edo State where they will be charged to court at the end of Police investigation.
Only last week there was a reported case of high-tension cable conductor vandalism at Esaba, Otutuaima, Oghangbla and Iuhre-Ogun communities in Ughelli South Local Government area of Delta State. The suspects; Messrs. John Moses, Bako Michel, and Azikewe Festus in these communities were said to have vandalized 65 poles of high tension cable conductors in June this year. They were reportedly charged to Ogwuashi-Uku Magistrate Court on early this month and remanded at Ogwuashi-Uku Correctional Center Ogwuashi-Uku.