Electricity consumers in Asaba, the Delta State capital, on Wednesday, protested against alleged outrageous electricity bills by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company.
The protesters, who barricaded the entrance to the company, said the bill served on them in April was based on estimations and not on actual consumption.
They expressed worry that the company had continued to exploit them using estimated billing system and had refused to make the prepaid meter available to them.
According to one of the customers, Musa Shaibu, who resides along Ibusa Road, Asaba, “the April bill is very unbelievable, they served me N20, 000 as against the monthly charges of between N2, 000 and N3, 000 for the past months”.
“How much is my salary, there is no way I can pay this bill because I know that in the next four months my household cannot consume the N20,000 bill they served me for one month alone,” he said.
He said the readings were estimated and what was indicated in the bills were at variance with his current meter reading.
“The truth is that the billing system is outrageous, there is fraud in the reading, how can they give N14, 000 bill and above to all consumers in Asaba?
“Government must address this issue before it gets out of hand because I am not ready to pay this bill,” he said.
Another consumer, Elizabeth Ogana, who resides on Loe Okogwu Street, Asaba, said her monthly electricity bill galloped from N4, 000 in March to N19, 000 in April.
“The challenge is this, I am not living in the house, it is a self-contain apartment, I rented it so that whenever I come into Asaba I can stay there.
“Last month, March 28, I came and I met N8, 075 electricity bill and went and paid N8, 000 but just few days ago, they brought a bill of N19, 000 for April, this is why I have come to lodge my complaint in this office.
“I am not operating a factory in the house and like I said I don’t stay there, how can I pay this outrageous bill that I am sure I did not consume,” she said.
Dominic Adewale, resident of Okpanam near Asaba, said that the company had since January served him with overestimated bills.
“I have a functional analogue meter, but they never come to read it and each time they always serve me with overestimated bill.
“I had endured since January and had managed to pay their charges but when the April bill of N16, 000 came I could not contain it.
“So, I protested and wrote a petition, attached photocopy of the April bill coupon and dropped it with the Office in Asaba,” he said.
The Corporate Affairs Officer, Asaba and Agbor BEDC Business District, Esther Okolie, said the company was working on a template to get the average consumption rate of the consumers.
She explained that the company was not getting a commensurate returns to power supplied to the consumers due to lots of energy losses.
According to her, the company currently is having a huge backlog of energy supplied to consumers that cannot be accounted for.
“This issue will be looked into, this recent development will enable us get the average consumption rate over a period of time by consumers and it will help us check faulty meters and meters that were being by-passed,” Mrs. Okolie said.
“We know it is very painful, particularly in this period, but the management is working on that.
“We are currently installing pre-paid meters and mounting them on poles as a way of checking by-passing of the meters by fraudulent individuals.
Mrs. Okolie charged the protesters to record their current meter reading on their April bills coupons and drop them with the customer care for the attention of the management.
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