By Ikenga Odogwu
The residents of a section of Akwakuma in Owerri North L.G.A have been served their yearly menu by vandals who had thrown them into pitch darkness for the past two months as a result of the vandalization of their transformer situated at Akwakuma market.
The choice of the phrase, “yearly menu” is deliberate, instructive and apt because the residents of this section of Akwakuma seem to be the most vulnerable to vandals because they had been subjected to this inhumane and wicked treatment for the past five years consecutively.
Vandalization of transformers rarely occurs in other parts of Akwakuma and Amakohia, and in fact all over Owerri metropolis, but this EGBEADA 11 KVA FEEDER has been the unfortunate scapegoat of vandals.
The most curious part of this sabotage and wickedness is that it usually happens during the ember months fueling suspicion and speculation that the vandals could be some criminal staff of EEDC .
Last year, the same vandalization happened in October. In 2018, it happened in November. In 2017, it happened in September. In 2016, it happened in December. What then is the nexus or connection between these vandalism and the ember months? Why is Akwakuma Market Transformer (that is, EGBEADA 11 KVA FEEDER) hated so much among all the transformers in Owerri district?
The residents of this particular section of Akwakuma began this year with about ₦2,000 as monthly EEDC bill. Today, it is ₦7,112.24 per flat irrespective of number of rooms in a flat. It’s the height of injustice and wickedness for a one bedroom, two bedrooms, and three bedrooms flats to be paying a pro rata EEDC monthly bill.
The worse part of it is that EEDC has been exploiting the docility and indifference and lack of cooperative attitude of the residents of the area to be intimidating them. The residents are not the type that protest against injustice, they all mind their businesses giving the EEDC staff the needed impetus and encouragement to be treating them in a most despicable manner.
Even in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought a lot of hardship to the populace, the EEDC revenue collection staff would still disconnect the residents who do not pay the exact monthly amount on the pretext of “under payment”. If not for the cowardly and non-charlatan attitude of the residents of this area, EEDC shouldn’t be treating them in this manner. No other part of Owerri is subjected to this degrading and dehumanizing treatment by the EEDC.
Even as this area of Akwakuma has been in darkness for the past two months, EEDC monthly bill keeps coming with the latest being ₦7,112.24 for the month of August even when they didn’t use light throughout August.
A landlord, Mr. Mahakwe Omemgbeoji, was rushed to the hospital last month after a scuffle with EEDC staff who wanted to disconnect his residence. The man resisted the injustice, and they swooped on him pummeling him to stupor.
On the latest vandalism, some staff of EEDC have unofficially instructed the residents to pay ₦5,000 per head for both tenants and landlords in addition to compulsory monthly bill payment, to fix the vandalized transformer if they want their light in this area, otherwise he boasted and threatened that these residents would never see any ray of EEDC light in the next six months. This wicked demand or levy by EEDC has confirmed the allegation or rumour that some criminal staff of the EEDC could be the ones vandalizing this particular transformer on yearly basis.
The residents have been paying this levy for the past five years to fix the transformer, why haven’t EEDC used a part of previous levy to build a strong protective cage around the transformer to guard it from vandals? Why do Amakohia and other parts of Akwakuma always have electricity unlike our part of Akwakuma? Why are their transformer always protected from vandals unlike our own? What magic wand did Amakohia do that always guarantees steady light to the area? Why can’t same magic wand be applied to Akwakuma Market Transformer?
If EEDC wicked staff are looking for any transformer to vandalize to get their usual Christmas bonanza after the residents of the area must have tasked themselves to replace the vandalized transformer, why should Akwakuma Market Transformer always be the target year after year? Is it the responsibility of residents to replace a vandalized transformer? EEDC is a private company and the onus or responsibility lies on it to protect its transformers across the South East Region where it covers by fortifying them with strong protective cages. Do communication companies like MTN, GLO, etc, levy their customers or consumers whenever their masks are destroyed or vandalized?
In conclusion, I am appealing to the state government to intervene in this matter in order to guard against a looming cataclysmic protest against EEDC when the anger and patience of the residents boil over. I am also calling on the EEDC headquarters at Enugu to call these corrupt and wicked Akwakuma EEDC staff to order before they bring a lot of avoidable problems to the company. A stitch in time saves nine.
*Odogwu, writes from Owerri