“We residents in the community have all come to an agreement that no one-room apartment resident would pay anything more than N600…”
Recently, residents of Orile-Iganmu community in Coker-Aguda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State trooped out in large numbers to protest the epileptic power supply in the area as well as outrageous bills given to consumers.
The protesters comprised men and women drawn from over 95 streets in the community. They also demanded that prepaid meters should be issued to them.
They complained that, for over three weeks, the Eko Electric Distribution Company (EKEDC) has disconnected power supply to the area. The people lamented that they could no longer continue paying for ‘darkness.’
According to them, the poor power supply has led to a decline in their socio-economic activities. They regretted that a large chunk of their profits was going into the purchase of petrol to power generators, regretting that they were still being charged exorbitant electricity bills.
A woman leader in the commune, Mrs. Chioma Sunday, who resides at Opeleru Street, said the people were overbilled and under-served by the distribution company.
Said she: “I am a mother and I sell drinks and food. It is what I sell that I use to cater for my family. Yet the estimated bills they send to us are just too crazy. I keep getting bills of N18,000 for my one-bedroom flat and N21,000 for my two shops. It is so unfair.
So, how and where am I going to raise the money? What would I use to feed my children? How would I pay my shop rent? The kind of bill we get from EKEDC is now higher than what we pay as our house and shop rents.”
Another resident, Olasukunmi Akeem, the general secretary of the Landlords and Tenants’ Association, Orile Iganmu, decried the situation and called on the authorities to release prepaid meters to the people: “The way we are being billed has become too much on us and we cannot afford to pay anymore. The estimated billing is too much. How can a one-room apartment be billed as much as N3,000 per month, while other mini flats are charged as much as N20,000? So, that is why we have come out to protest, to say no to estimated billing used by these discos, and demand pre-paid meters. Enough is enough. We cannot endure this anymore.
“And it is beginning to seem they are trying to force the estimated bills on us because, about a month ago, they came to our community with armed soldiers and police to illegally disconnect our lines from the electric poles. And it is illegal to climb the pole and disconnect electricity.
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“In fact, we residents in the community have all come to an agreement that no one-room apartment resident would pay anything more than N600. And if they are not satisfied with it, they should then distribute the pre- paid meter to us, or hold on to their power because we’re getting used to the ‘darkness’ they supply to us.
“The whole community has been in darkness for more than three weeks now. And we gathered that they are preparing to issue out another bill to us. And we ask them, who is going to pay for that? How are they going to deduct the three weeks’ power outage from the subsequent bills they would issue to us? “But each time we go to them for these questions, they choose to abuse us, calling us thieves, touts and jobless people that go about inciting people. We don’t care. All we are saying is that the estimated bills are too much and we cannot continue to pay.”
The district’s business manager, Mr. Onime, explained that EKEDC had been having discussions with the community leaders on ways to amicably resolve the issues in the community.
“Again, we have fully restored electricity supply to the area. The issue of prepaid meter is what the federal government is trying to straighten out. The federal government has taken prepaid meters off the discos and they have commissioned 30 companies that will buy the prepaid meters and install them for customers. And according to the minister, money has been earmarked for that project. Even the minister urged customers not to demand the prepaid meters from the discos.”