The activities of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in Puluya Community can best be described as unconscionable and something has to be done fast to stop the extortion of the good people of Puluya by its field staff.
Puluya is one of the communities in Mpape in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Some years ago, the community was not connected to the electricity grid. To redress this anomaly that seemingly kept people in the community in 18th century while other residents of the FCT were in the 20th century and with electricity supplied to their homes, residents of Puluya community levied themselves and raided money to buy electric poles, transformers, distribution cables and also paid for all the other related items needed for the connection of the community to the public power supply grid.
Shortly after that the power sector was privatised and the AECD took over, the people of Puluya continued to pay for power supply. Recently, windstorm pulled down one of the electricity poles after a downpour. The officials of AEDC in Mpape were contacted and informed about the incident.
The technical team dispatched to the community came to remove the aluminum cables and then left. Consequently, some other parts of the community suffered blackout. People were hoping that the officials of AEDC would come back not long after to fix the problem. Unfortunately, they refused to come back. After being contacted for the second time, they told the affected people to contribute money and buy another pole. According to them, the pole that pulled down by wind was no longer good for use.
To remedy the situation, a member of the community, Mr. Emmanuel, popularly known as Chairman, volunteered and bought a pole for the affected people. The officials of AEDC were still contacted to after the pole was delivered.
Members of the technical team sent by AEDC insisted that the people must pay them N5000 before they would fix the pole and reconnect the community to the national grid. This caused an altercation that almost degenerated into a fight between them and youths in the community. But wisdom displayed by the elders saved day, especially as the community desperately needed power supply, the people contributed the amount demanded by the field staff.
It is to be noted that similar poor treatment of other electricity consumers is going on in other parts of Puluya community. Whenever there is a problem with power supply, people have to pay before the problem would be fixed. Meanwhile, people are paying AEDC for power supply. Why do we have to pay for the transformers, provide the electric poles, buy cables, pay our bills for electricity consumed and still have to pay kickback when our light has any problem before it can be fixed?
Certainly, it is horrible and condemnable for the staff of a corporate organization to place extra burden on fee-paying customers, who provide the money used by the organization to pay them.
• Awunah Pius Terwase, a public affairs and human rights advocate wrote from Mpape, Abuja