Electricity customers in some parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have lamented the outrageous increase in the monthly electricity bills given to them by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company(AEDC).
This is coming, weeks after the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) hinted that the electricity tariff, considering macro-economic indices, would be gradually increased, from April 2020.
The Commission in an archive of documents for each of the 11 DisCos, uploaded on its website and titled: Minor Review Of MYTO 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2019, had stated that the Power Sector Recovery Plan (PSRP)does not “envisage” an immediate increase in end-users tariff until Ist April adding that the increase will not totally be on electricity consumers.
However, residents on estimated billings especially in Abuja are now of the opinion that electricity tariff has already increased considering the huge addition to the bills.
The increase was reflected in the new bill brought to each household in January.
A survey of some of the bills revealed that some of the increase was between 40 to 90 per cent or more but the energy charge per kilowatt has not increased.
A computer operator, Daniel Odogwu, who complained bitterly, argued that the tariff has increased since he was billed much higher than his previous bills.
“Can’t you see that the tariff has increased? he queried. The new bill they brought was very much and the power supply has not been stable. Look at the last bill they brought, it was N9,000 but now it is N17,000. N9,000 when the supply was a bit steady and all of a sudden it just went up!
“They used to increase the bill virtually every month by N1,000 at most but this one is even by more than N5,000 and they expect us to pay at this time when everything is dry,” he said.
Mr Gboyega a civil servant, who visibly expressed his anger at the development, lamented the spate of overbilling by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) stressing that this has continued unabating.
He lamented how his bill skyrocketed to over N30,000 within a space of two months from about N9,000.
“I don’t have new appliances to even say that is why my bill was increased. What am I using that warrants them to bring me N30,000? I have complained to them severally, they asked me to write a letter which I did but instead, the money keeps going high,” he said
Similarly, residents of Piwoyi village, a suburb in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had on Monday, clashed with the officials of the Abuja Electricity Regulatory Commission (AEDC) over the development.
Trouble started when an official of AEDC wanted to disconnect an irate customer identified as Mr Otunba, who strongly restrained the official from carrying out the disconnection.
The customer argued that the estimated bill recently sent to him was outrageous, considering the epileptic supply.
In the same vein, other customers had reportedly pleaded for more time to make the payment but the AEDC officials refused, an act that sparked a protest among residents.
Another resident within the community who simply gave his name as Mr Olaoye disclosed that the bills were just distributed with a notable increase.
It, however, took the intervention of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) before the protest was prevented from escalating.
When contacted, the AEDC spokesperson, Mr Oyebode Fadipe denied claims that it has increased tariff for electricity users.
“There has not been any fraction of money added to the cost of energy. It Is NERC that have the authority to order an increase in tariff. What happened recently is that NERC notified the country on the outcome of a review of electricity tariff but it did not say that the tariff has increased.
“AEDC cannot unilaterally increase the tariff. What customers may have noticed or called an increase is what we usually call the estimated billing controversy,” he said.
However, he assured that investigations would be carried out to ascertain the true cause of the increases.
“The recent increase is an issue we would like to investigate to find out what could have led to that. Do we have more power coming to that area during the period, you know when customers say that power has been erratic, we also have our meters in the transformers, we have various levels of checks both at the feeder level and transformer level to check the amount of energy that went into a particular area at any point in time.
“Customers have found an easy alibi that there has not been light but of course you can only record the quantum, you cannot store energy and we don’t keep this energy, we release it as it comes and we have meters in our transformers and at the feeder level.
“We cannot sit here and just assume whatever, it requires an investigation to find out what could have caused the increases.”