05 December 2013, Lagos – Electricity consumers have said that there was no justification for the rising estimated bills handed to them by the Distribution Companies, DISCOs, in view of the worsening power supply situation in the country.
They also condemned the recent suspension of the installation of pre-paid meters, which they said could reduce the burden of crazy billings.
The public outcry came even as the Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said the Commission had not approved any increase in electricity tariff or charges by the DISCOs.
Some Lagos residents that spoke with this reporter, said they have been experiencing unprecedented blackout since the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria’, PHCN’s assets, while their bills are still based on estimation.
Mr. Chibuike Igbokwe, a resident of Ojodu, said while residents experienced almost total blackout in November, his bills however, rose from N5,000 to N8,000. He questioned the rationale behind such high bills.
Search for pre-paid metersHe also disclosed that he had applied for pre-paid meter since June, to rescue him from such outrageous billing.
Igbokwe said: “I paid for pre-paid meter since June, with the hope that I will know exactly my consumption rate.
“I have not been given the meter, which means that my bill is still based on estimation. It is unfair.”
A resident of Ikeja, Mr. Emmanuel Etim, said residents in his area have not experienced electricity supply in the last three weeks, thus making it difficult for him to run his tailoring business.
He said: “The power situation has gone from bad to worse since the private investors took over. I use inverters to supple-ment public power supply.”
Etim told said that he had concluded plans to relocate his tailoring outfit to a more power-friendly area, to cash in on the seasonal boom.
Similarly, Mr. Boyo Oke, who lives in Oregun, disclosed that he paid for a pre-paid meter since January, but is yet to receive the supply, while his bills have gone up.
He said: “Go from house-to-house in Oregun and tell me where you will see the prepaid meter. How many houses are using the pre-paid meter in the state?
“You journalists should get the data and publish it. It is not available. The new investors know what they are doing.
“They can’t supply electricity; they can’t give the meter, yet they bring outrageous bills.”100% increase in chargeEven those with pre-paid meters are not spared, as Femi Adisa, who lives at Alausa, said not only has the electricity supply situation deteriorated, but the bills are rising daily.
He accused the DISCOs of introducing hidden charges without informing consumers such as increasing the service by 100 percent.
He said: “I bought a recharge card worth N4,000 for my pre-paid meter. On getting home, I found out that the service charge has been increased by 100 percent from N750 to N1,500.
“I felt very annoyed not only because of the increase without notice, but because I have been without electricity for three weeks now.”
*Sebastine Obasi, Vanguard