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UNIBEN students block highway due to power outage

Vehicular movement was hampered and commuters stranded on Wednesday when students of the University of Benin blocked the Benin/Ore Expressway in protest over a power cut at the institution’s campuses in Ugbowo and Ekhewan, Benin.

The university was reportedly left in the dark following its failure to reach an agreement with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company over a perceived contentious electricity billing.

The management of the institution is said to have expressed dismay over the upward revision of the institution’s monthly electricity bill from N80 million to N280 million.

This forced the university to turn to alternative power generators and rationalization across both campuses.

The protest, which began early in the morning, saw students carrying placards and chanting slogans as they blocked the road.

One protesting student, who simply identified himself as John, said the daily hour of electricity had become largely insufficient and had discouraged studying.

He said: “We only have one hour of electricity a day since this problem started. We are tired of studying in the dark.

“We need electricity to read and prepare for our exams. The university management must take responsibility and solve this problem.”

Another student who gave her name as Sarah said: “We will not leave the highway until something is done. We cannot afford to fail our exams because of the university’s negligence.”

One driver, who identified himself as Osas, said the protest had caused him to lose income as he might not reach his target for the day.

“If I knew this was going to happen, I would take this route because it has caused me to lose income and I may not be able to reach my goal for the day.

“I hope that the school management will heed the students’ protest so that this situation can be put to an end. Many people have also been stranded and will not be able to go to work or their workplaces.”

One angry commuter, who declined to give his name, said: “I’m supposed to be at work right now but I’ve been stuck here for hours.

“I understand the plight of the students, but they need to find a better way to protest.”

The rain did not discourage the students and they promised to stay until the problem was resolved.

When contacted, the institution’s public relations officer, Benedicta Ehanire, said a Senate meeting was underway on how to resolve the issue.

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