10 April 2014, Lagos – Residents of Amuwo Odofin in Festac town, Lagos, under the aegis of Amuwo Odofin Landlord Association, recently staged a peaceful but angry protest against the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC), over what they described as unlawful and outrageous bills from the power distribution company.
The group came out in their numbers in a rented coastal bus from Amuwo Odofin in Festac town, to Ikeja, the head office of the distribution company to stage their protest. The members, which were mainly retired workers, were elderly men and women that were over 70 years of age, but they were looking very strong and forceful, carrying placards, and demanded to speak with the managers of IKEDC.
Chairman of the group, Mr. Ade Owas, while addressing the public that came to listen to their complaints, said they were protesting against crazy bills sent by the distribution company every month, without providing them with electricity. He complained that the monthly estimated bills were becoming outrageous, even though services were not rendered. He called on the management to urgently provide every resident of Festac town with prepaid metres and ordered IKEDC to henceforth stop collection of service charge on metres that have been provided to few residents. According to the group, the monthly service charge of N750 on every metre, is fraudulent since the metres are tools belonging to the distribution company through which they generate money for themselves.
They called on the distribution company to put on hold, all service charges on pre-paid metres and to stop estimated billing, until a time when it is able to address the challenges of electricity consumers in its jurisdiction.
The group added that a particular woman had been paying between N2,000 and N2,500 as estimated monthly bills, but that the same woman was given a crazy bill of N450,000 in one month, without any justification. All these, they said, must come to an end.
Responding to the complaints and allegations, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, IKEDC, Mr. Rotimi Afolayan pleaded with the angry group to exercise some more patience with the electricity distribution company. According to him, “Management is aware of the challenges that electricity consumers are facing, and it is working hard to address them, especially in providing pre-paid metres to all those that were yet to get metres.”
He explained that the distribution company was also facing its own challenges, but is working hard to address them.
He further said the company had to take bank loans to address some of the challenges and that the money involved is huge.
Nigerians had thought that with the licensing of electricity distribution companies across the country, the challenges of PHCN would be addressed, but to the surprise of many, the distribution companies have not been able to salvage the situation, as Nigerians still groan under poor electricity supply.
– Emma Okonji, This Day