09 December 2015, Lagos – Electricity consumers in Abuja have accused the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, of exploitation and undue profiteering, while they called on the Federal Government to call the company to order.
The customers alleged that the company is abusing the statutory methodology approved for billing customers under the estimated billing system, by manipulating consumers that cannot properly scrutinize their billings especially in consumption, energy and current charges.
The consumers argued that if every consumer was provided with a meter, the incidence of estimated billing will be controlled.
However, a spokesperson for AEDC, Mr. Ahmed Shekarau, defended that its billing of unmetered customers is scientific; saying that whatever amount of energy is injected into a district is measured in kilowatts hour, KWH, with various transformers and feeders for various sets of customers.
He said: “Now we have measured this number of units in terms of KWH of power into this particular district; we remove the amount for metered customers on pre-paid and metered credit meters, then the remainder is what goes to the unmetered customers.”
While assuring customers that the company is doing everything possible to provide services, he noted that there has been consistency on the part of the distribution company in the manner that it handled electricity.
However, the customers claimed that the bills are unrealistic in most cases, without recourse to the methodology on estimated billing initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
One of the customers argued: “Normally, in arriving at an estimated billing for a customer, a distribution company (Disco) is expected to establish a basis. This considers the duration of electricity supply to the customer, apartment size, and electrical appliances used and more importantly, benchmark with customers on post meter and prepaid metering within the same cluster.
“But the reality on ground is one where consumers are unilaterally billed at the discretion of the Discos, with the bills periodically increased without the increase of electricity tariff by NERC.
“The rate of inaccuracy and inconsistency in the billing calls for concern. For instance, summation of a consumer’s consumption in August was 298, by September it jumped to 398; it moved to 479 in October and in November to 663 for the same consumer. Members of staff of the Disco sit in the comfort of their offices to manipulate consumers with energy charges of N4,385.01 in August; September N4,818.66; in October N7,038.36; and in November N7,744.63. The same consumer, same house and same appliances is further charged current charges of N5,087.01 in August, in September it is N5, 520.66; October N7,740.36 and in November it is N10,446.63.”
Some of the consumers also claimed that in some cases, payment made for electricity bills are not reflected, and leading to a situation whereby the amount is included in subsequent bills.
Narrating his ordeal to Vanguard, another consumer, Mrs Josephine Idoko, a resident of Galadinma, a suburb in Abuja, expressed confusion and shock over the bill the AEDC slammed on her.
*Grace Udofia – Vanguard