Ikeja Electric under fire for scrapping paper bills
• It’s An Innovation For Satisfying Experience-Ofolue
Electricity Consumers under the Ikeja Electric (IE) jurisdiction have advised the company to have a rethink on its proposed replacement of the monthly electricity bill.
The Guardian learnt that the IE has initiated moves to replace the monthly printed electricity bills with text messages. With the development, as learnt, the IE will gradually phase out printed bills in a transforming tech environment.
This was contained in the information sent to some landlords and other electricity consumers within IE jurisdiction. One of the text messages sent to customers under the Fagba Undertaking Office, obtained by The Guardian read: “Dear Customer, kindly go ahead and make payment based on the e-Billing SMS/Email notification received from Us. Ikeja Electric has stopped the distribution of paper bill to all our Fagba customers. If you are yet to receive your energy bill, please visit the Fagba Undertaking Office or call our dedicated customer care line on 017000250. Thank you for allowing us serve you.”
Though some customers under the Abule-Taylor Business Unit, Ijaiye, Ajao Estate and others are yet to receive the notification, but they have been receiving the e-Billing\SMS for their monthly consumptions.
The Guardian check revealed that the move is a violation of Regulation 4(1) and (3) of the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 shortlisted under the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s Meter Reading, Billing, Cash Collections and Credit Management for Electricity Supplies Regulation 2007.
One of the issues raised by customers, is the fact that the new method will create breakdown of law and order in many houses as it may create disagreement between landlords and tenants in cases where there are no separate meters.
The Chairman/Coordinator General, Joint Action Congress Of Electricity Distribution Company Customers Right, under the IE, Comrade Ayodele Olawoye, said if the plan is not shelved, it might aggravate the already existing misunderstanding causing fracas between landlords and tenants and among tenants.
He noted that with reference to regulation 4(1), which stipulates that: Every Distribution Company Shall issue bills for electricity used at each customer’s supply address at regular intervals approved by the Commission, he said sub-section 3 of the regulation 4 clearly states that all electricity bills shall be in a format easily understood by customers and shall contain the information in the schedule to this regulation.
“The cost of printing the bills had already been included in the tariff paid by consumers. Therefore, Ikeja Electric or any DisCo have no justification for this enigmatic policy, which can’t favour electricity consumers, but only for the DisCo to continue exploiting their innocent customers.”
Olawoye said the body had issued an ultimatum to the electricity company to prove customers right or wrong, before it will embark on sensitisation of all consumers on the dangers that the new method, which negates transparency will cause the area.
Another customer who also condemned the move warned the electricity company to always involve customers whenever sensitive decisions “like this are being proposed. IE is fond of inconveniencing customers and extorting them unnecessarily. Despite irregular power supply, they still add to our agony. This crazy and everyone should reject it.”
But the Head, Corporate Communications of the company, Felix Ofulue, who told The Guardian that customers’ claims are misrepresentation of the initiative, said the concept of e-billing in Ikeja Electric is a product of Innovation and technology, driven by the desire to provide customers with a satisfying experience.
“So what we have done with e-billing is to create different platforms through which postpaid customers can easily access their bills. As a forward thinking organisation, we understand that a critical element of product development is customer convenience and ease to access.
“This is what we intend to achieve by providing postpaid customers with easier options of receiving monthly bills via SMS, e-mail, USSD, IE Bill Portal and IE mobile app.”
He said the IE developed and deployed the e-Billing initiative with the aim of enhancing accessibility of information to eligible customers; provide customers with easier options of receiving monthly bills via SMS, Email, USSD or IE Bill Portal; assurance of delivery through bill delivery confirmation mechanism; promotion of speedy processes and cutting down on printing time and manual distribution period with all its attendant challenges; reduction of risk of bills being lost by customers or being damaged in the course of transportation and electronic tracking of bills delivery, among others.
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