In Maiduguri, improved electricity supply brings pain

Power Lines [Photo: energymixreport.com]
Power Lines used to illustrate the story [Photo: energymixreport.com]

An appreciable improvement in power supply in Maiduguri has led to outrageous billings by the electricity company, some residents the city have said.

The electricity consumers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, described the billings by the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) as worrisome, adding that it was not in the interest of the masses because it has hindered economic activities and social life of the people.

They also alleged that YEDC hiked electricity bills by over 100 percent for commercial and residential areas sequel to the improvement in power supply in the area.

Esther Chukwuma, one of the consumers, described the new billing adopted by the power distribution company as frustrating and lamentable.

“My bill indicated that I used 605 units in November and they charged N14,000 as against N6,500 for September, where I used the same units.

“They are charging me for what I did not consume because, during the day, I spend most of my time in my shop. I only use the electricity at night at home.

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“I have a prepaid metre in the shop and I don’t spend more than N2,000 in a whole month.

“So how come I am not staying at home and I am being asked to pay N14, 000?

“I am here in their office, demanding an explanation,” she said.

Also speaking, Fatima Musa, a widow, said, “I was given a bill of N15,000 monthly instead of the N5,000 I used to get monthly.

“I strongly disagree with this outrageous charges given without any explanation”.

She said electricity consumers were at the receiving end, especially those without prepaid metres, noting that the billing process was “opaque and lacks transparency”.

Ibrahim Suleiman, another consumer who lives in Bolori, appealed to the YEDC to go back to the former status quo where electricity was supplied for 12 hours and not 24 hours.

Mr Suleiman described the stable power supply as a “wastage” because many consumers cannot use electricity during working hours.

“I work from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m. So I do not need any electricity until I get home. But in this case, whether you consume power or not, you will be billed to pay for it. I think this is not fair,” he said.

Abdullahi Bako, who lives in Gwange, asked, how YEDC can bring a bill between N9,000 and N15,000 to a room apartment in a month.

“We are being forced to pay for electricity we never consumed. This is extortion. We demand for transparency in the billing methodology,” Mr Bako said.

Responding, Usman Wakta, the YEDC Maiduguri Business Manager, said the company does not bill its customers arbitrarily.

“These complaints may be as a result of the commissioning of the 330kV transmission line which now supplies electricity 24 hours.

He said that before the commissioning of the new line, the stations relied on the 132KV controlled from Biu, which can only supply for a period of ten to 12 hours per day.

“On the average, we now supply electricity in the town for a minimum of 22 hours in a day, which simply implies that the consumption of energy by residents in the state have multiplied or even tripled itself.

“We took a simple study from our prepaid metres users and we found out that the people that usually came to buy unit of N2000 or N3000 in a month now have to spend N15,000 or N20,000 because of their energy usage.

“One thing we notice about the consumers is that they waste energy. People have this habit of leaving their lights on, even in the afternoon.

“Go to some supermarkets or filling stations, you will see more than 200 bulbs on in the afternoon. So the more you load you use, the more energy you consume.

On the allegation of exorbitant billing of consumers without meter, Mr Wakta said, “We go to people’s home to do load assessment based on the gadgets they have in the house and bill them accordingly.”

(NAN)

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