After protest, Lagos electricity firm approves special billing for community

Some of the protesters
Some of the protesters

After a three-month power outage, residents of Orile-Iganmu, a Lagos community, and the Eko Electricity Distribution Plc (EKEDP) have reached an agreement over billing method to be used by electricity consumers.

A copy of the memorandum of understanding seen by PREMIUM TIMES dated July 31, 2019, said both parties had agreed to the use of a statistical meter which would be jointly read by both parties and charged accordingly.

The agreement was jointly signed by officials of the EKEDP, Orile District; the Joint Development Association, comprising community development associations in Orile-Iganmu; and the Landlord and Tenant Association.

It stated that the meter would be read by those who understand the figures and are conversant with electricity matters and that the billings of customers must accord with the readings obtained from the jointly read statistical meters after the deduction of prepaid meter users.

“There shall no longer be flat payment as electricity bills, instead customers of the community shall pay their full current bills duly apportioned and corresponding with readings obtained from jointly read statistical meters,” the agreement stated.

It further stated that the EKEDC shall take steps to meter the remaining six unmetered Distribution Transformers (DTs) in the community, comprising Obanta, Jubrila, Osho, Nurudeen, Disu-Esan, and Chisco-ECWA.

It also added that EKEDC officials are at liberty to disconnect any defaulting customer without harassment by any member of the community or group.

”That disputes resulting from the estimated bills or any other issues or terms contained in this MOU, especially related to billing, payment etc, shall be resolved amicably at a round table discussion by representatives of both parties.”

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Sodiq Ololade, a member of the Committee of the Landlords and Tenants Association of Nigeria, said following the signing of the MOU, the EKEDP promised to restore power to the community on August 5.

Mr Ololade said the community had been suffering outrageous estimated bills without a commensurate electricity supply.

“Each room used to pay N3,000 and above (depending on the number of rooms in the building),” he said.

”We were introduced to statistics meter, which is analogue and it was fixed to the transformer in 2018.”

Although the meter was to monitor the quantity of electricity consumed by the residents with the cost implications, however. when the monthly bills arrive, it always appeared inflated.

The residents protested the ”outrageous bills” and unanimously agreed to be paying N600 per apartment monthly, irrespective of the charges by EKEDC.

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In response, the electricity company began calculating the balance as debts owed which lead to its disconnection of the community.

Mr Ololade said at the meeting held last Wednesday attended by 12 residents’ representatives and seven EKEDP officials, it was agreed that there would be no charges for the period of the blackout.

Ade Soko, the EKEDC Zonal Commercial Manager, Doyin district, said there would a regular patrol in the community to ensure that the transformers are in good condition.

He added that the residents would not be billed for the months of June and July.

‘Two hours per day electricity’

Some of the residents and traders in the community expressed displeasure at the three-month power outage.

Afam John, a supermarket owner in Orile, told PREMIUM TIMES that sales had been “dull” since the blackout.

“It’s been (three) months now, it is very bad,” he said.

”I have not been using my fridge. From morning till evening before I (turn) on my generator. I burn fuel every day, I spend five litres in two days on my generator.”

Kehinde Ibidapo, a resident at Savage Street, said they decided to be paying N600 per month because the electricity lasted for about two hours daily.

An attendant at a frozen food shop, who identified herself simply as Zainab, said a lot of their goods get bad because of the protracted blackout.

“We have disposed of about 80 cartons both here and our warehouse. Within a week, we spend N20,000 on fuel, yet some of the frozen foods still get spoilt,” said Ms Zainab, who added that they had just disposed of ten cartons of chicken laps.

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