…As Badagry residents laud Reps. for passing bill, criminalizing estimated billing***
The Taiwo, Wahabi, Larinde Community Development Association (CDA) in Oshodi area of Lagos State has decried the overestimated bills that Ikeja Electric (IE) has been serving them, just as Badagry residents on Wednesday lauded the House of Representatives on the passage of a bill, criminalising estimated billing of consumers by Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
The CDA also tasked the distribution company to supply the community with prepaid meters to avoid the consistent overestimated bills being charged, insisting that the Ikeja Electric deliberately denies them pre-paid meters so as to continue the extortion in the area.
The Vice-Chairman of the association, Chief Ololade Agoro, highlighted on Wednesday that the community had been experiencing the crazy bills syndrome for the past 14 months.
“The monthly bill is now becoming unbearable for the consumers: a bill of N7,000 in June 2018 has risen to N10,000; and that of N10,000 has gone up to N15,000.
“Occupants of a two-bedroom apartments used to pay N20,000 per month but that has suddenly jumped up to N30,000 without any reason for the increment.
“For Ikeja Electric to bill an apartment about N100, 000 within three months is outrageous,’’ he said.
According to him, the community is responsible for the expenses and maintenance of the transformer installed within the community whenever it is faulty.
Agoro said that the area was not enjoying adequate power supply adding that the ‘crazy’ bills charged by the company were not justifiable.
Also, Mr Kayode Lemo, the Secretary of the association charged IE to expedite actions regarding the supply of prepaid meters to the community to curb the continued overestimated bills issued to its residents.
Lemo also charged the distribution company to do a downward review of all overestimated bills before it would issue prepaid meters to the members of the CDA.
“The residents cannot pay for what they did not use; and to avoid that, IE should do a downward review of the past overestimated bills.
“It should also regularise all charges before new meters are supplied to the community.’’
The secretary said that at a meeting the community held with IE officials, the community underscored the need for IE to reduce the billings to cover between December 2018 and January 2019.
“This will allow residents to pay off the arrears easily occasioned by previous ‘crazy’ bills from July to November 2018.
“We agreed to start a joint reading and capturing of energies consumed by every household. That will be done by one or two members of the community’s executive and the IE officials.
“But the readings to ascertain the energies consumed by our community members from the transformer were only carried out only in January 2019 by the IE officials alone,’’ he said.
When contacted, Mr Felix Ofulue, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of IE, said that the reason why the bills were increased was as a result of increase in power supply to the area.
Ofulue noted that because of the development, IE had to jack up the charges to be paid by each household in the community.
Meanwhile, residents of Badagry, Lagos State on Wednesday commended the House of Representatives on the passage of a bill, criminalising estimated billing of consumers by Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
The residents said that the bill would end of years of arbitrary billing and extortion of electricity consumers by DISCOS, if passed into law.
The House of Representatives had on October 3 passed the bill which says issuance of estimated billing will attract either a one-year jail term or a fine of N1 million or both.
The proposed law would also compel a distribution company to provide prepaid meter to an applicant within 30 days, while barring the DISCOs from disconnecting the consumer after the 30-day period within which meter should be installed.
The Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, presented in the Eighth National Assembly by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, then as Majority Leader, was re-presented in July 2019.
Mr. Samson Akpata, the Supervisory Councillor for Education and Tourism, Badagry Local Government, described the passage of the bill as a welcome development.
“I wish to commend our Honourable Speaker for being consistent and in touch with the downtrodden.
“Ripping off Nigerians through estimated billing is a financial crime and thank God the House is coming to the rescue of poor electricity consumers from the unscrupulous practice by Discos.
“We can’t wait to see the end of this obnoxious estimated billing regime,” he said.
Akpata said the law would wake up DISCOs from their slumber and treat consumers as kings.
Mr Ebenezer Kuponu, Chairman, Badagry Community Development Committee (CDC), also commended the House of Representatives for passing the bill.
According to him, the step will stop DISCOs from extorting innocent consumers through estimated billing.
“We have seen the worst here in Badagry in the hands of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC); they give us crazy bills every month without power supply.
“They only give us supply at the end of the month when their officials are out to serve us crazy bills.
“The following day, they will come with their ladder to disconnect us from the pole.
”Funnily enough, we will have to pay additional N2,000 connection fee to get connected back after we have paid the bill.
“The whole thing is frustrating but thank God, the crazy bill is gradually coming to an end.
“We are imploring the Upper Chamber to follow suit and ensure the bill becomes law,” he said.
Mr Idowu Jimoh, a staff of Public Complaints Commission, Badagry, urged the Senate to also pass the bill, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily assent to the bill when presented to him.
Jimoh said government should not only ensure that the bill becomes law, but also see to its implementation to save the consumers.
Mrs Chinyere Olorie, a restaurant operator in Badagry, said that EKEDC gave her N6,000 monthly bill without regular supply.
“I have applied for prepaid meter without getting any for years,” she said.