Residents protest against estimated billing, demand prepaid metres
We Cannot Stop Estimated Billing- IKEDC
Business owners and residents of Aliu-Bisiru/Erinfolami, Apena Streets, Ago Palace Way, Okota and environs in Lagos State, recently protested against what they described as incessant blackout, crazy, estimated bills, as well as extortion, which they are subjected to by the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC).
They pointedly accused the outfit of doing everything to meet their business target while neglecting the consumers’ plight despite several complaints bordering on poor service delivery brought before them.
Kingsley Akujobi, who led residents of Aliu-Bisiru/Erinfolami told The Guardian during the protest, “We’ve been complaining about the crazy bills given to us for a very long time. In fact, in the last four years, we have been receiving terribly high electricity bills. For instance, there are situations where a three-bedroom flat is charged the same amount as a room self-contained apartment.
“Is it rationale to bill a three-bedroom flat or a room self-contained apartment N13, 000, N15, 000 or even N18, 000 in a month?
We have written severally for this kind of injustice to be corrected, or at least for the company to look into our plight, but it seems like there is no solution yet in sight. At a point, they told us that they would reduce the high monthly bill and give us uniform bill pending when we would get our pre-paid meters, but that promise has not been fulfilled till date. Two years ago, they were giving out metres to residents in some other areas, but that was terminated before they reached our area.”
Akujobi continued: “The worst thing is that we are paying for what we are not consuming. So, now, we demand an end to estimated and crazy bills because we don’t know why a person that left his home for more than a month still get charged for what he didn’t consume. We want our community to be given prepaid metres so that consumers will only pay for what they consume. The incessant disconnection of electricity and removal of cables when there is no power supply is even funny because most of the time we don’t have light for three weeks, but they will still disconnect us.
“We are also demanding that IKEDC should give us another transformer because the one at Epena Street has been there for over 20 years. Initially, they said that it would only serve 50 buildings, but now, that transformer is serving almost 350 houses. This has led to it operating on a one day on, one day off basis. Many times, we are left without supply on days that we are supposed to have power supply. At the end of the month, we are still made to pay huge bills. We want today to be the last time that we will come here to protest because we don’t like it since we all have businesses that we are doing. I’m a lawyer and I am supposed to be in court, but I also here because when everybody is crying; it has become an issue.
Reacting to their grievances, the Business Manager (BM), Oshodi Business Unit, Taofeek Basanya, said, “There is no way that we will not resort to estimated bill because not everyone that has prepaid metre. If you were in our shoes, you would do exactly what we are doing because people are consuming energy and there must be a way of getting them to pay for the energy that they are consuming.
So, if we are not in a position to give prepaid metre to everybody, then we are constrained to bill on estimated methodology. Billing on estimation is something we cannot cancel.
“On our part, we are doing everything possible to ensure that the bills that we give to our customers are not crazy so, we have metered all the transformers that are feeding the customers so that the energy we are going to bill to customers does not exceed the one that passes through that transformer. But those that are metered, but are still getting bills should come forward and we will put an end to that,” he added.
Promising to provide the residents with prepaid meters, he said, “the good news is that the regulators have noticed the problem that DisCos are encountering in terms of metering the customers and they have come up with a regulation that all customers would have access to apply for metre through a third party vendor that will be working with the DisCos and customers will be able to apply for metres at will. The time for that is about two months from now. After application, customers would take delivery of their metres within one month.
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