A clash is imminent as the Eko Elecricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) embarks on mass disconnection of power supply to households in Itire, Odo-Eran and the environs over outrageous estimated bills issued for the month of July.
NewsGazette gathered that the residents had protested against the excessive electricity tariff and mopped up the July bills which they returned to EKEDC office, Ijeshatedo Undertaking.
The action, it was gathered irked the DisCo which mobilised its staff to disconnect power to the residents beginning from Friday, August 28.
To ensure a hitch-free exercise, it was learnt that EKEDC would enlist the police to ward off any resistance by the residents.
The residents said they could not tolerate the outrageous tariff and agreed that since the July bill was being contested, they would only pay the undisputed bill (June) until the dispute is resolved.
They relied on the provision of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005, items 13 and 14 which state:”It is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill.
“Any unmetered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process of NERC.”
NewsGazette gathered that Jacob Adeleye, Trepower, Olorogun and other community development associations in Odo-Eran had petitioned the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), EKEDC, Marina and EKEDC, Ijeshatedo Undertaking.
NewsGazette observed that the highest tariff EKEDC charged the residents of Jacob Adeleye, Trepower and Olorogun streets in June for instance was N5000. But the tariff tripled in July.
For instance, a July bill cited by NewsGazette showed that a house in Olorogun Street was billed N16000—VAT inclusive—whereas, the same compound was billed N5000 VAT inclusive in the month June.
Another bill cited showed that a compound with two-bedroom apartments was billed N18000 for the month of July while the tenants paid N6000 for the month of June.
Another bill presented by a resident of Smith Street showed electricity tariff of N18000 while another bill in Jacob Adeleye Street for eight-room compound showed N19000 for the month of July.
“The most disturbing thing is that there was no day in the month of July that we had a 12-hour supply of electricity in a single day. Power supply was as erratic as ever. So how did EKEDC arrive at such outrageous billing? It is unbelievable and this can only happen in a country where things are done arbitrarily,” said an angry resident.
A resident of Jacob Adeleye told NewsGazette: “During the COVID-19 lockdown, there was no power supply to Odo-Eran Community between March and May because the transformer was faulty and EKEDC took it away for repair. When they returned the equipment in June, EKEDC coerced the community to pay some money from the outstanding debt otherwise it will not install the transformer. The community met and obliged to pay N5000 from whatever each consumer owed. In June the tariff was minimal but in July it went up by more than 150 per cent. We are five tenants using two meters. From N10000 the five tenants paid for the month of June, the tariff went up to N38000 for the month of July. Meanwhile, we don’t have air conditioners and other energy-gulping electrical appliances in the house. This is wickedness on the part of the DisCO, especially at this time.”
NewsGazette learnt that the statistical meter installed on the electricity transformer beside Odo-Eran market had packed up.
“I packed into a three-bedroom apartment recently. The electricity meter is working but EKEDC does not come around to read it. I am on estimated billing system which has turned out to be a big fraud.
“EKEDC just sit in the office to concoct charges and force them on the consumers,” said a resident.
“I don’t have a meter. What they do is, after allocating bill to metered customers, they pile the heavy balance on the unmetered electricity consumers under estimated the billing system in order to realise their targeted revenue from the area. Whereas metered customers recharge with say N10000 which they do not exhaust in five months, they will give me a bill of N10000 monthly to unmetered consumers,” said another resident.
NewsGazette gathered that the EKEDC management had queried its field staff why revenue generation in Itire, Odo-Eran and the environs was so low in June.
The staff were therefore asked to “sit up and step up their revenue generation if they would receive their July pay.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the marketer for the area, Mr. Joseph Imadu went to the communities and issued notice of intention to commence disconnection of power supply to resident who would not complete payment for July bill by today, August 28.
When NewsGazette staff who was in Odo-Eran community on Thursday asked Imadu if he was aware that the bill in question was being disputed, he said he was unaware of any disputed bill.
“We don’t relate with groups; we relate with individuals. If the community had sent any petition that is a nullity; but if individuals send any petition we attend to them. The community cannot speak for our customers. Individuals and not communities pay for power consumption,” said Imadu.
When NewsGazette asked Imadu why the residents were not supplied with prepaid meters he said: “Where do you see the meters? Anyone who needs it should apply.”