Raphael Ede, Enugu
Electricity consumers in the southeast and the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) Tuesday traded blames over the poor electricity supply to the zone particularly in Enugu State.
Speaking at a Customer Forum organized by a non-governmental organization (NGO), Advocacy Partnership for Good Governance, at Radio Nigeria Enugu Pavilion, electricity consumers, including Ojielo Chukwudi and Obadiah Chibuzor, a retiree and data management consultant, accused EEDC of ‘crazy’ bills, exorbitant charges, continuous billing of disconnected customers and general poor services.
Some of the customers also alleged vandalism of transformers by EEDC workers themselves, deliberate denial of customers of pre-paid meters, weak and poor power infrastructure, indiscriminate disconnection of costumers for up to three years and high handedness by officials of the electricity distribution company.
According to Ojielo, “the service is extremely poor; I think there should be a complete overhaul of what they are doing in EEDC if they are not capable of managing it. They have always given this excuse that they are just a power distribution company, that it is only what they get that they distribute. How come that it is only happening here? How come it’s not happening in other places? If they don’t have money to buy enough to distribute, why don’t they say so and get us some competent people to manage it?”
For its part, officials of the EEDC, including Ijeoma Ogudebe, Manager Customer Service EEDC, and Emeka Eze of engineering department, pointed to faulty meters, logistic problems by Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCM), and the illegal activities of some electricity consumers, such as bypassing of meters and illegal connections.
“We are sorry for some of this misunderstandings and complaints,” the company said. “We buy power from Transmission Company of Nigeria, and sometimes transformers of TCN get bad.”
The Manager Customer Service, Ijeoma Ogudebe, said the company has over 700,000 customers to meter and that the massive metering rollout programme of EEDC to meet this need was ongoing.
She appealed to customers to ensure that they direct their complaints to the 147 customer care units across the zone.
“Well, for the fact that it was a customer forum I know I was going to meet the customers, and as usual get their pulse and how they perceive our service. Just like I expected, it was exactly what I saw. I saw some customers who still don’t understand our operations; so this forum gives us the opportunity to actually tell them how we operate in EEDC, the challenges we face as well looking at their complaints, which we also intend to resolve,” Ogudebe said.
“We are already distributing meters; I said that our metering rollout programme is on course. It is something on going. As a company our target is to ensure that all our customers are metered.
She revealed that “Customer population without meters is very huge. We have about 700,000 customers that we need to meter. There are some who have meters that we need to change. All these are in the numbers, and so far we have metered a good number.”
Speaking on the objective of organizing the Forum, the Coordinator of Advocacy Partnership for Good Governance, Barr Crownwell Chibuzor said, “it’s a dialogue for finding a way out of a long conundrum in Enugu with respect to EEDC service delivery. We have done a study and discovered that EEDC, over time, has been treating people as customers; but we are now trying to highlight the aspect of consumer rights attached to what they are doing so that they see that there is a law behind what they are doing and any breach can be actioned against.”