30 June 2013, UMUAHIA — Members of Small Scale Polythene Industries in Onitsha, Anambra State, have called on President Goodluck Jonathan and governors of the South East to prevail on the Power Holding Company and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to save them from outrageous electricity bills.
The industrialists, acting under the aegis of Osakwe Industrial Cluster, claimed that about five small scale industries had shut down as a result of epileptic power outage.
The situation, the group noted, was the same in Aba, the commercial city of Abia State.
The appeal was made by the Chairman of the cluster, Mr. Johnson Okolo, who lamented what his members were going through in the hands of PHCN.
He said if no urgent intervention was made by the government, small scale industries would go into extinction in the zone.
Okolo said the call became necessary, following threat by the PHCN to invade the cluster for mass disconnection for non-payment of bills he said ranged from N500,000 to N1 million.
He said the high bills were even given amid epileptic power supply to the area by PHCN.
According to him, most members of the cluster cannot pay such high bills and the next alternative will be to close shops and throw hundreds of people into the labour market.
He, however, warned that the small scale industrialists had vowed to resist any attempt to invade their companies by PHCN for any illegal disconnection.
He said: “We will not accept this overbilling by PHCN. We will not tolerate illegal disconnection of light, intimidation and harassment by PHCN”.
The industrialists had previously complained of what they called high fixed charge of MYTO2 in PHCN Enugu Zone.
They also wrote to the Zonal Coordinator, Nigerian Electricity Commission, NERC, Owerri, Imo State, alleging outrageous billing of their companies.
Mr Jude Egbo, who is the Managing Director of Perfect World Global Industry Limited, said: “in January this year, I paid PHCN electricity bill of N400,000 and in February I paid N288,000 yet they disconnected power to my factory in February and gave me N500,000 and I cannot continue paying such outrageous bills and I decided to close the company, I have gone into buying and selling of goods.
“Zenith Plastic, Ikenna Plastic ,Anyaoha Plastic and Ezenwa Plastic companies respectively were given N2.8 million, N2.5 million, N1.8 million and N1.6 million electricity bills respectively and were forced to close down when they could not pay the outrageous bills.”
Okolo said he had been told by his members of alleged plan by PHCN to invade their industrial cluster for mass disconnections, adding that “I reliably got the same information from a PHCN staff that the PHCN Enugu Zone is against the move but the Ogidi Business Unit of PHCN is encouraging the zone to allow them carry out the operation since it will yield enough fund for PHCN.
“Such operation by PHCN could cause problem and I cannot guarantee the safety of any PHCN official who will visit the industrial cluster for such activity, the industrialist are not happy with the experience of members whose companies have been forced to close down with the outrageous bills.
“Most of industries are operating on 15 KVA and below transformers but are being charged on the rate of the bill companies that operate on 45 to 100 KVA, thereby making them to pay outrageous bills.
“Personally, I am given fixed charge of KVA component of N104,733 and energy use of N289,000 monthly, yet I am on credit of N1.3 million.”
He appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the managing director of PHCN to stop the disconnection threats, intimidation and harassment of his people through outrageous electricity bills.
He said over 10,000 people might lose their jobs in the cluster if PHCN continued harassing them with the disconnection of electricity and subsequent outrageous bills that followed the disconnection.
Deputy Head Public Affairs Department, PHCN Enugu, Mr. Max Orjiakor, when contacted for reaction, denied that PHCN billed industries on estimated basis.
He, however, said he could not on other allegations until he got clearer picture of what was happening in Anambra State.
*Anayo Okoli, Vanguard