Yemi Saliu said in spite of the epileptic power supply in his community, EKEDC officials had always given the residents crazy bills at the end of the month
It was a day of rage and protests. Recently, landlords and residents of 32 communities in Lagos tackled officials of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC). The residents and landlords shut down the operations of the electricity company, accusing the firm of issuing exorbitant bills to residents of the communities.
Landlords and tenants of communities that make up the Isashi Joint Community Development Authority in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos, have handed a 21-day ultimatum to the management of the EKEDC to address the problems of high electricity bills bedevilling the area. They threatened that they might be compelled to take the law into their hands if their affliction continued.
The residents of the 32 communities gave the ultimatum during a protest to the headquarters of EKEDC in Marina, Lagos. They warned that after 21 days, they would prevent the personnel of the electricity distribution company from carrying out activities within the area.
The residents and landlords thronged the Marina head office of the EKEDC as early as 8am. They barricaded the main entrance of the company, chanting songs and calling on the authorities of the organisation to come down and attend to their needs.
They complained of being victims of astronomical billings by the electricity company, especially at times when electricity was not supplied. “It is wickedness on the part of EKEDC not to supply electricity but bill us astronomically and expect us to pay,” they said.
The residents and landlords, who shut down their various businesses to tackle the power crisis, displayed various placards during the protest and prevented clients of the EKEDC from accessing the company.
However after chanting songs for several hours, some personnel of the EKEDC were drafted to talk to the protesters. Soon after, he officials had a meeting with select leaders of the communities.
The meeting lasted for two hours. But some members of the community said that was not what they wanted from the EKEDC. They said the organisation must provide prepaid meters for them and stop the estimated billing system.
They also said the EKEDC must cancel accumulated bills already despatched to them and stop the staff of the firm from harassing and intimidating residents of Isashi with soldiers over non-payment of electricity bills.
They also alleged that some of the staff of the EKEDC have been engaging in deliberate hoarding of the prepaid metres, “Since they know this will prevent them from getting free money, they are forcing electricity consumers to pay,” some of the protesters alleged.
Some of the placards read: ‘EKEDC, our mumu don do,’ ‘This extortion must stop,’ ‘Give us pre-paid meters’ ‘We are your customers, we know our rights,’ among others.
Evangelist Chukwuemeka Agha, the Chairman of Electricity Committee of the CDA told Daily Sun that more than 100,000 electricity consumers in the area were being subjected to estimated billing by EKEDC, adding that the community had met with the management of EKEDC on several occasions and had various discussions and exchange of correspondence to end the estimated billing.
“We are tired of their excuses, and we are no longer comfortable with the outrageous billing. We had to take to the streets to register our displeasure with their crazy billing. They should give us prepaid metres. We want functional metres that will let us know the quantum of electricity that we are using on daily basis.
“Anytime we remember about electricity bill, our hearts skip as if we are in huge debt. The trauma is just too much. People will be served bills of N30,000, N45,000 when they are not operating a factory, a situation that has made electricity bill higher than the house rent itself,” he noted.
Also, Yemi Saliu, the Secretary of Electricity Committee of Isashi Community Development Association, said in spite of the epileptic power supply in the community, EKEDC officials had always given the residents crazy bills at the end of the month.
His words: “We are protesting so that EKEDC should be aware that we are fed up with their consumer billing system.
“The electricity company has found it pleasurable and convenient to adopt the system of using a satanic and nefarious methodology to compute its consumer bills through estimated billing.
“Estimated bills are always served our community, regardless of EKEDC’s failure to supply power. Now, we have resolved that without prepaid meters, there would be no payment of monthly bills. We are no longer fools.”
Pastor Comrade Pius, another resident of the community, urged the management of Eko Disco to comply with the directive by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) that all distribution companies (DISCOs) should abolish the estimated billing system.
“It is what we have been experiencing with EKEDC that brought us. As we are here today, we are 32 community development associations (CDAs) combined, and we want to express our displeasure on what we have been experiencing with the EKEDC who does not supply power, but always derives pleasure in billing us astronomically.
“For instance, whenever there is rain or it threatens to rain, the EKEDC officials will shut down power and it will remain so for a month or thereabouts before it will be restored. Despite the epileptic power situation or no power at all, they will bring bills as high as N20,000, N30,000 per resident, per month. We are tired of this system, and we are demanding prepaid meters.”
He lamented that the cables, electricity poles and even the transformers were bought by the residents with no kind of compensation from EKEDC.
He said it was even more unfortunate that whenever the residents decide to gradually offset the accumulated bills by paying something higher than what they were billed, the bill for the following month would be far higher again, and the residents would be back to square one.
When Daily Sun visited the EKEDC in Marina for comments, an official who pleaded anonymity acknowledged that the company received complaints from many communities and that recently
the Isashi community came to lodge complaints too. He said that efforts were being made to address the problem.
On the issue of prepaid meters, the official said the electricity company was making arrangements to distribute prepaid meters to all its customers.