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Disquiet as communities tackle IKEDC over ‘outrageous charges’


Complaints about billings by distribution companies (DisCos) have continued to worsen unabated despite measures to address the issue.
The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on several occasions indicated its displeasure with estimated charges passed on to electricity consumers and repealed its benchmarks for computing the consumption of unmetered consumers.
DisCos have continued to subject unmetered consumers to what they described as outrageous charges. For instance, some consumers serviced by Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) have continued to lament that the service rendered is not commensurate with the charges they are compelled to pay every month.

This has prompted residents of Ifesowapo community in Agbado/Oke Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State to ask the IKEDC to stop supplying power to their communities.
The residents, under the Ifesowapo Joint Community Development Association, who made their resolutions known in a letter to IKEDC, have resolved to disconnect the service if the company refuses to comply.
The letter, signed by the Joint CDA Chairman, Wasiu Bello and the Secretary, Razak Shekoni, and submitted at the company’s Undertaking Office at Ponle.
The residents noted that the decision was their response to outrageous estimated November bills they received, with the households receiving an average of 602 units as consumption, amounting to over N24, 000 per household.
The letter reads: “It is quite unfortunate that we have been at the receiving end of this dubious billing. We do not intend to continue with your services. It has been agreed that you should disconnect your supply forthwith. If we do not see the necessary action, all residents will drop their lines and will not be expecting any corresponding bill.
“We also need to emphasize that none of your staff should parade themselves in our communities both for official and non-official assignments as we cannot guarantee their safety.”
The residents said some households got as high as N36, 000 as bills for November.An elder in the community, who lives with his wife in a three-room bungalow, said he got N24, 599 as service charge for the month.
The CDA, in the letter, hinted that they had lodged complaints several times at the DisCo office at Aboru office over “the crazy billing” but there were no corresponding actions.
It was gathered that some of the community leaders had previously met with the distribution company officials on the November bill but were told that the issue was beyond them; hence, it could only be handled by the head office.
In a similar letter, Olorunsogo Ifelodun CDA described IKEDC’s bills served the residents as callous and dubious.

“Without a proper energy audit, we find it strange and disturbing for any sincere service rendering company to assume consumption in a community to be over 600kw per resident.”

“The billing for November is not acceptable and very contestable. We are, by this notice, insisting on discontinuing the use of your service in our community,” the resident wrote.

The community also lamented that efforts to get pre-paid meters has been failed, saying that the mass metering directive of President Muhammadu Buhari is not effective.
When The Guardian contacted IE’s Head of Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue, he said, “Until the FG introduced the National Mass Metering Programme, residents of the community had the choice to apply for meters under MAP. But possibly, they refused to apply because they did not want to pay for it.”

The Federal Government had in October commenced the distribution of six million free pre-paid electricity metres to Nigerians through the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), with the launch of the scheme in Eko, Kano, Kaduna and Ikeja Distribution Companies (DisCos) franchise areas.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, had in August this year, ordered distribution companies to carry out mass metering of consumers nationwide.


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