Stop billing us for electricity not consumed, residents tell EKEDC

• Go for prepaid meter- Management

Residents of Ajegunle and suburb communities in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State, last Thursday went on protest to Eko Electricity Distribution (EKEDC) Plc at its zonal office in Ijora Badia, which serves the area.

They embarked on the peaceful protest chanting solidarity songs to show their total disapproval to the company for allegedly billing them for the electricity they were not given let alone enjoyed.

The protesters, who included pregnant women and septuagenarians carried placards with various inscriptions, including “No to estimated\crazy bills,” “No light, no payment,” “Give us prepaid meter,” “No to statistical meter,” “No to illegal disconnection,” “Nationalise the power sector now as privatisation has failed us,” among others.

They carried out the action under the aegis of Landlords and Tenants Association of Nigeria, Ajegunle branch, noting that the Thursday protest was the second one for them in five weeks over the same issues with no respite.

They accused Eko Electricity of not being sensitive to their plights both as customers leaving in darkness and also as part of poverty-stricken Nigerians. They said the company is hardly giving them light, yet, giving them high bills every month.

They said what baffled them most now is that they were served three-month bills and at the outrageous amount at once covering the months of May, June and July when in reality they were in total blackout from May 17 to August 24 due to technical fault at the transmission feeding station in Apapa that serves the area.

They said the prolonged outage was dully acknowledged by the Apapa District Manager of the company, Mrs Lilian Obiakor, through SMS she reportedly sent to their leaders on July 8th, 2020, and pleaded for understanding of the situation.

They said having no power supply for the period had really taken a huge toll on their health and businesses and also on their children who are students and at home due to COVID-19 pandemic as they are unable to join their peers for the various ongoing online learning activities.

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To this end, the protesters, mostly from Ugbowankwo, Ajegunle, Okorogbo, Alayabiagba, Ayetoro, among others, went with their complaint letter and also with all their three-month bills in contention and submitted both to the officer in charge of the zone.

They said while some of them were charged as high as N30, 000 for the month of May and N13, 000 for June, the company deliberately reduced their July bills to as low as N4, 000 and still served all at once two days after restoring the light to the area.

They vowed never to pay the bills as doing so would make the company continue taking them for fools.

The chairman of the association, Mr Robinson Orus, told Tribune Online during the protest that what they wanted Eko Electricity to do is to withdraw the three-month bills and also permanently expunge same from their account.

“We also want the company to stop giving us estimated and crazy bills. They should bill us based on what we consumed, we are ready to pay without fail. They should also stop disconnecting our wires from the poles illegally. And above all, they should give us prepaid meter,” he added.

He said it was totally unfair and illegal for the company to be asking them to pay for the light not supplied.

Pa Yakubu Balogun, 75, told Tribune Online that he had up to half a million naira as accumulated bills on his account, which he attributed to consistently estimated bills he had been receiving over the years.

He said the situation had caused enmity among occupants of his face-to-face rooms’ house such that some had already on their own disconnected themselves from the house meter and now staying perpetually in darkness.

Even at that, he pointed out, the house still pays up to N8, 000 monthly on the accumulated bills.

Similarly, Pa Ajadi Noah, a 72-year-old grandpa told Tribune Online that he had up to N167, 000 accumulated bills on his account, saying he is totally confused on how to go about the payment.

He like others also asked Eko Electric to write off the three-month bills and also give them prepaid meter, saying that is the best way to enjoy a cordial relationship.

Nevertheless, Tribune Online contacted the Apapa District Manager of the company, Mrs Lilian Obiakor, on phone, and she directed our correspondent to the Corporate Affairs Manager of the district, Mr Segun Kosoko, on the excuse that her official role doesn’t cover talking to newsmen.

Mr Kosoko, after confirming that the axis actually experienced some outage at the period in question, he asked our correspondent to talk to the AGM, Brand Management and CSR of the company at the headquarters, Mr Babatunde Lasiki, for further response.

In his reaction, Mr Lasiki said it was not as if the area was in a total blackout during the three months in contention, but the supply was considerably low due to factor already given.

He said the residents were served the bills based on some light they consumed and which was determined through the statistical meters attacked on their transformers.

He explained that almost every transformer in the axis, just like in many others has what he called statistical meter attached on them and through that, the company can generate bills based on the units approved by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERD) at the end of each month. “And that is what the company did,” he emphasised.

While pointing that the company always gives room for individual customers (and not group) with complaints and proven evidence to approach the company for possible reconciliation on their bills, he said such would only be entertained if the tender is written (and not verbal) with details provided.

On the case of protesters, he insisted that though, the company would look into their complaints about possible rectification, they were bills based on the reading from the statistical meters attached to their transformers.

But when asked how come their electricity bills for the month of July is far lower than the previous two months, he said he would find out as he doesn’t live in the axis.

He, however, urged every customer to go for the prepaid meter so as to avoid frequent frictions.

He said the process of getting prepaid meters now would take customers only a few days once they follow the laid down guidelines.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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