Saturday, February 24Inside Business Africa

Consumers lament outrageous electricity billing despite benchmark

To address the issue of outrageous billing that has continued to plague the electricity distribution sub-sector, and the numerous complaints by consumers, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had repealed estimated billing methodology regulation as the basis for computing the consumption of unmetered consumers.

It also issued a deadline of April 30, 2020 for proper identification and metering of high-energy users.

However, consumers are in doubt as to whether the latest proposed tariff increase had not yet taken place, alleging that the power supplied is not commensurate with the bills received every month.

Speaking with The Guardian, consumers of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC), and Eko Distribution Company (EKEDC), have lamented outrageous bills, irregular power supply, and perilous power infrastructure, among others.

Residents of Ojodu Berger, under IKEDC complained that the recent exorbitant bills are not commensurate with the frequency of power supplied.

Specifically, Sodiq Rammon, said from N13,000 in December 2019, his electricity bill rose to N18,000 in January, N22,000 in March, and N32,000 in April.

He said: “In April 2020, the Ikeja Distribution Company (IKEDC) gave us an estimated bill of N32,000. That was when there was a lockdown. We cried and wailed, the following month (May) they brought N35,000 and yet more cries and wailing. This month, the bill for June consumption rose to N48,000. This is what these Discos are doing to us. Is it not better they disconnect our light permanently? I thought they said the tariff increase has been put on hold?

“I have never believed in the tariff, because whether there is tariff increase or not, as long as you are on estimated billing without prepaid meter, they would bring to you outrageous bills monthly when there’s absolutely no commensurate supply.”

He, however, admitted that electricity supply was steady in April, and residents had power for 15 hours daily but the supply has dropped since May.

“To be fair to IKEDC, the supply in April was stable. I could say without mincing words that we enjoyed electricity supply for 15 hours daily, but supply has dropped drastically since that April. We certainly enjoyed less in May, and also less in June. How come the bill instead of reducing has continued to increase albeit criminally and astronomically? The earlier we stopped this mindless extortion, the better.”

Also, a resident of Magodo, Mrs. Florence decried the treatment meted on the residents by IKEDC.

According to her, residents contributed money to purchase poles, cables, and meters, and also replaced the transformer but the distribution company would later claim ownership.

“Then the electricity distribution companies will, without taking the meter reading, send outrageous estimated bills to you for power never consumed. And if you dare raise a question against this action, they will come and remove the cable you bought with your money as their property.

“You then will be charged what they call a ‘reconnection fee’ to get your cable fixed back. And you will have to bribe their personnel to replace a melted fuse or you will remain perpetually in darkness and still pay the bill at the end of the month.

“The most heinous part of their corporate crimes against the people is the revenue target they set for their personnel every month.”

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