The Management of Benin Electricty Distribution Company (BEDC) PLC, yesterday, January 31, explained that the its delay in signing the bilateral agreement on Edo State owned Ossiomo Power project was due to Ossiomo’s non agreement to process of operations, maintenance and management of the line being constructed in line with licensing and safety standard in order to ensure safety of lives and property.
The Management, however, affirmed it ready to partner Edo State government on the project, stressing that this is evidenced in its constant efforts at ensuring that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) clearance letter is properly and safely implemented.
BEDC Chief Head, Edo State, Mr. Abel Enechaziam, while disclosing the company’s position to newsmen in Benin, said procurement process for the proposed new line, expected to be based on open & competitive procurement that is in line with prudency requirement by the regulators has not been agreed to by Ossiomo.
Enechaziam, who addressed the press on behalf of the Managing Director of BEDC, Funke Osibodu, noted that when combined with proposal by Ossiomo, the valuation methodology for pricing of purchase in 10years time should be agreed to in future, stressing that these can lead to tariff costs that may not conform with regulatory approval.
“As you are aware, we operate in a regulated sector andsector and would require the sign off of the relevant sector regulators such as NERC and NEMSA before executing the proposed agreement, in order to ensure that we remain within the permitted regulatory parameters”, he stressed further.
According to him, two grey areas that were in contention in the bilateral agreement on Ossiomo bordered on the need for valuation of the line being used for power evacuation through open, competitive and transparency tendering process to ensure that only prudent cost are passed to the customers.
The other area of dispute he said was the company’s insistence that joint operation and maintenance of the Ossiomo line was not allowed and that a sub contactor could be appointed by Ossiomo to work under BEDC supervision for accountability and safety sake in its network.
He stated, “The recent electrocution of two persons occasioned by Ossiomo’s ongoing construction which interfaced with our distribution line thereby causing supply interruption to the community in the area as well as alleged death of one of the parties involved, indeed emphasizes the need for the project to be undertaken in line with applicable regulatory and safety standards.”
He further noted that in addition, there were also other unresolved matters such as valuation methodology for line construction, as well as the issue of procurement of 33KV line, and the operation and maintenance of the constructed distribution line.
The Management therefore requested for the release of the draft agreement for its review and clearance by the regulator; considerations for safety of the lives of people and public costs so that there is need for proper alignment of key stakeholders and regulatory sign off on the agreement before execution.
Hunger Looms As Bakers Set To Shut Down Industry Nationwide
The Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) South-East chapter, has said it is set to withdraw its services from July 13, as directed by its national body.
The Zonal Chairman of the association, Chief Dominic Nwibe made this known in an interview with NAN on Wednesday in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
Recall that the National President of AMBCN, Malam Mansur Umar had also said members would begin a two-week strike from July 13, citing an increase in prices of bakery materials.
Following the directive, Chief Dominic said, “We had a zonal meeting in Abakaliki and decided to follow the directive which is supposed to last for two weeks.
“A bag of baking flour which hitherto cost N25,000 presently cost N28,000 and it is worrisome that it will keep increasing.
“A bag of sugar which hitherto cost N9,000 presently cost N30,000 while 20 litres of groundnut oil costs about N20,000″.
According to him, the members felt it was unnecessary to keep increasing the prices of bakery products such as bread to the detriment of customers.
“The customers would feel that we are greedy and we want to let the federal government know that the situation has become unbearable.
“We are asking for the liberalisation of the sugar importation process to break the monopoly by two or three firms.
“These firms import sugar and control its price mechanisms as the withdrawal of services will make our customers know we are telling the truth on reasons for price increases,” he added.
The zonal chairman regretted that the authorities blamed the high cost of materials on the economic effects of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
“We don’t see any justification to this assertion as flour for instance, can be sourced from nearby countries,” he said.
Also speaking, the south east Zonal Secretary of the association, Mr Okey Ezeanata said that “bakers have been seriously affected by the development as most of them have closed shops”.
“The market forces have been unfair to us and as the time we increased prices of products in April till present, there have been several changes.
“We urge the federal government to allow mass participation in our materials’ importation process just like in the telecommunication sector,” he said.
NAN reports that the association alleged that the National Wheat Cultivation Committee already constituted is yet to be inaugurated after over one year.
Traders, Residents Groan Over Hike In Food Prices
Traders and residents in PortHarcourt, Rivers State, Tuesday raised an alarm over the sudden hike in prices of food items and other commodities.
There are also indications of a famine in the state as most farmers have abandoned their farms over the increasing insecurity in the area.
It was, however, gathered that the scarcity of farm produce, the high cost of petroleum products, transportation and the lack of price control have contributed to the high cost of food.
At a press briefing, the Chairman of the Mile 1, State Ultra-Modern Market, Godspower Wobo and his predecessor, Kenneth Eze Chigozie, said the hike in food items is becoming worrisome, warning that if nothing was done by the state and federal governments, food prices would skyrocket to 200 per cent.
“We have observed that traders buy their goods at high prices on account of hike in fuel, transportation and associated risks of insecurity, all these cumulatively influence the prices of foodstuffs which is borne by the final consumers.
“Farmers are deserting their farms and communities due to criminal attacks by dreaded masked bandits and unknown gunmen.
“Aside from the security challenges, the government is not doing enough to support farmers over mechanized farming to reduce rural/urban migration for white-collar jobs.
“Diversion of government agricultural loans is also a problem. Agricultural loans hardly or never get into the hands of the real rural farmers. Part of the resultant effects are famine and the high cost of farm produce looming in the country.
“Governments should, therefore, address the problems and factors affecting the cost of food and look inwards to encourage local farmers”.
Register With Us, Grow Your Business, Edo Govt Tells Business Owners
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have been urged to register with the appropriate Edo State agencies in order to get the requisite government assistance to grow.
The Acting Governor of Edo, Comrade Philip Shaibu, made the call on Thursday in Benin during a stakeholders meeting between the MSMEs and the state Ministry of Physical Planning, Urban and Regional Development.
The meeting was convened in partnership with the German Agency for the Cooperation (GIZ), which is working to ensure an enabling environment for the MSMEs.
The business owners, the acting Edo chief said would need to register with the state Ministry of Trade and Investment, so as to receive necessary attention.
“As Government, we will use the banks; we will also use our facilities to grow your businesses because we have discovered we need you to function.
“We need you to stand; until you stand, our economy will be shaking and we don’t want our economy in Edo to be shaking.
“We want to grow our GDP. Our target is not 28 per cent contribution to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), our target is to have MSMEs accounting for at least 65 per cent,” he said.
Shaibu described MSMEs as a critical stakeholder that was responsible for 79 employment in the state.
Earlier in her address, Ms Blessing Ajimoti, Edo Coordinator for the GIZ-SEDIN programme, urged the MSME owners to leverage of the opportunity to ask questions about the Benin Masterplan.
She said her agency’s partnership with Edo ministry was in fulfilment of its objectives.
One of these, she said was to improve the employment and income situation of MSMEs through access to finance and business service.
She also said that GIZ SEDIN programme also aimed to strengthening entrepreneurial and managerial skills, and addressing key barriers in the business environment and investment climate.
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