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From Okey Sampson, Aba
Industrialists in Aba, Abia State, under the aegis of Association of Aba Industrialists (AAI), took to the streets yesterday to protest high tariff and disconnection of power supply to their industries by Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).
The protesting industrialists, who marched through some streets of the commercial city before ending up at the major entrance to Ariaria district office of EEDC on Calabar Street, Aba, carried placards, some of which read: “EEDC anti-business,” “EEDC cheats Aba industrialists,” “EEDC, major cause of unemployment,” “EEDC tariff is unbearable and EEDC, enough is enough.”
Addressing newsmen at the gate of EEDC office, one of the leaders of AAI, Cletus Ekpo, said his members took to the streets to protest because EEDC staff cut off power supply to all industries in Aba for no just cause.
Ikpo said industries in Aba, before now, were paying N23 as tariff, but after a while, EEDC jerked the amount to over N46, which he said was more than 100 per cent increment. He said after several appeals for EEDC to reduce the tariff failed, members of AAI went to Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which denied ever mandating EEDC to increase tariff and asked them to reverse it.
Ekpo said when the matter was brought back to Aba from the NERC office at Owerri, industrialists in the city reached a gentle man’s agreement with officials of EEDC, for them to pay 25 per cent of the original increment, which he said was what they were paying before the EEDC unilaterally cut off power supply to their industries on Monday.
AAI’s grouse with EEDC was not only that power supply was disconnected to their industries, they also alleged that they don’t enjoy constant power supply, yet, EEDC gives them over bloated tariff every month.
“Our leaders have met with EEDC officials on several occasions over epileptic power supply, and they always promised to give us light; but at the end, we see none, yet they come up with high tariffs. When we had NEPA, things were far better for us, but since EEDC took over things have gone worse.”
“If things continue this way, we will be forced to lay off over 500, 000 workers under our employ and you know the security implication to their city, state and the country at large,” he said.
Other leaders who spoke including chairman of AAI, Chiefs Emma Obi, and Alex Maduako decried the treatment meted out to industrialists in Aba by EEDC staff, stating that an average industry in the city gets bill of between N5million to N7million monthly, yet there is no adequate power supply.
“Some industries in Aba are in most cases given estimated bills of between N5million to N7million monthly by EEDC and at the end of every month, they make overall collection of between N200million to N300million, yet they don’t give us constant power.”
They called on EEDC to reconnect power back to their industries, claiming they have lost millions of naira since Monday when the power outfit disconnected them.
Efforts to reach any official of the EEDC could not yield fruit as none of the officials met was willing to talk to the press on the issue.