27 January 2017, Lagos – Residents of New London, in the Baruwa area of Ipaja-Ayobo, Lagos State, say Ikeja Electric has frustrated their efforts to improve power supply to the community.
PUNCH Metro gathered that IE requested the community to forfeit the ownership of the transformer and asked residents to pay 75 per cent of their outstanding electricity bills before it would energised it.
Residents, who spoke with our correspondent, said they had consented to the forfeiture, noting that the outstanding bills were charges that are not commensurate with the epileptic power supply they had been experiencing.
They, however, said they had also explained to the IE that owing consumers would pay once the transformer was connected.
The Chairman of Baruwa Development Community Association, one of the eight CDAs in the neighbourhood, Mr. Emmanuel Nzekwe, said about N2m was spent to buy the transformer and its accessories, adding that all electricity installations were done through residents’ contributions.
“We bought the two transformers we are using ourselves. We bought all the poles and wires. We rarely have electricity yet we get crazy bills on a monthly basis. We asked IE officials if we could buy one more and they wrote to us, giving us approval.
“After the installation, we waited for IE officials to energise the transformer, but they didn’t come. We have agreed to their conditions. People are ready to pay once they energise the transformer.”
A landlord, Mr. Sina Omotunde, said the transformer was vandalised a few months ago due to the delay in connection.
He said, “We had to contribute money again to buy the accessories that were stolen. The two transformers, which we are using, are overloaded and make electricity to trip off frequently. We complained at the IE office in Ipaja and requested a transformer.
“Some officials were sent to the community for inspection. They said we needed about five transformers, but the company did not have any. They asked us to agree in writing that the transformer we bought belonged to IE, which we did.
“Once the transformer is energised, and electricity improves, people will pay. We hardly have electricity; all the electronics I have at home have been on holiday.”
Another resident, Biodun Adeniran, observed that the two working transformers could pack up if the company failed to energise the new one on time. He urged the company to provide prepaid meters for them to end estimated billing.
“We are tired of their unyielding, lackadaisical and unprofessional attitudes towards resolving the issues noted in our petition. No bill settlement will be done until the transformer is energised,” he added.
The spokesperson for the IE, Mr. Felix Ofulue, said connection of transformers to the grid required some expenses, which could only be sourced from payments made by consumers.
He said, “We get a lot of requests from communities to energise transformers. We are addressing them one after another. There are processes to follow, part of which is ensuring that the transformer conforms to standard. Secondly, energising transformers require some capital investments.
“The money to purchase the items needed has to come from the money we make from collection. That is why we appeal to customers most times to pay their bills. We are not getting any fund from anywhere other than from the collection of bills.”