Consumers of electricity in Gowon Estate, Lagos, have accused Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company of capturing more people in its billing system. The move is allegedly to enhance their subsidy claim under the Aggregate Technical and Commercial, ATC, losses.
The consumers in the estate, near Egbeda, a suburb of Lagos, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, following the continued epileptic supply of electricity to them. They claimed that the company’s Akowonjo Business Unit create bad debts by supplying places where people who do not have pre-paid meters reside. According to them, the company can only claim ATC losses on billed accounts. They said that IKEDC’s supply of electricity to areas without pre-paid meters and denying areas with the facility was frustrating.
A representative of the community, Mr. Nathaniel Okoro, told NAN: “It is observed that IKEDC staff, during revenue drives, put much emphasis on getting people to join the billing system so that they can claim subsidy under the ATC losses for those accounts. “This is why they are not interested in defaulters who are not paying bills, and as such, do not disconnect them because it will fall under the ATC losses. Even when they disconnect, they continue to bill the account monthly, thereby accumulating outstanding bills that must be paid while they increase their ATC losses by this means.’’
On how to solve the erratic power supply in the area, Okoro noted that on October 30, 2018, a meeting was scheduled by the Akowonjo Business Unit management to discuss the Kuwait/Gowon Estate feeder supply problem. “The Kuwait feeder is the major feeder supplying electricity to the estate,’’ he said.
He, however, added that the meeting did not hold because the staff said the Business Manager was not available, even though the meeting was confirmed and scheduled. “Another meeting was rescheduled for November 23, 2018, where the residents sent representatives comprising the Navy, Customs, youths, market women and the Police, among others. The Business Manager, who usually described himself as an Emperor, was, again, not present and did not in any way say that he will not be available for the meeting. We were only told at the venue that he was not available. On that day, the youth became restive as a result, and the Commercial Manager and Head of Maintenance Operation agreed to hold the meeting and brief the Business Manager subsequently,’’ Okoro said.
He noted that at the meeting, the residents asked the Ikeja Electric staff to tell them why residents were having the type of erratic supply of three hours and below. “They (IKEDC) claimed that their major problem was that they were not recouping the money for energy supply to the Kuwait feeder due to energy theft and refusal by certain consumers to settle outstanding bills.” He said that the residents identified areas where they could be of help to alleviate the problems outlined by IKEDC, such as illegal connections and usage of energy without payment, among others.
Okoro said the consumers blamed the company for non-prosecution of energy thieves, not taking effective action when informed about illegal connections, culpability of their staff in illegal connections and involvement in illegal re-connections.
He urged the company to show good faith by supplying electricity for a minimum of 12 hours daily. Okoro said the residents assured IKEDC that they would work with them to locate areas where illegal connections and energy theft were prevalent.
However, NAN sent the following questions to the Ikeja Electric’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Felix Ofulue.
- The residents of Gowon Estate are accusing the Akowonjo Business Unit of being interested in capturing consumers in their billing system to enhance their subsidy claim under the Aggregate Technical and Commercial losses. Is it right?
- The residents also alleged that the Unit create bad debts by supplying places where people are not paying to boast their bill unpaid account. How true can this be?
- Why did the BM rebuff the residents at a meeting he scheduled on Nov. 23, 2018 and others to proffer solutions to the lingering epileptic power supply in the area?
Ofulue, in response, said: “All the claims above are far-fetched. That’s my response. There are better ways of resolving these issues than publishing false stories because you have the platform.”