Ikeja Electric rattles customers with request to abandon “outdated” prepaid meters

Solomon Ezeme

Management of Ikeja Electric (I.E) has called on all of its customers using the Unistar smart card meters (prepaid meters), to discontinue the use and start applying for new meters through the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme at their own cost, sparking reactions from some aggrieved customers within its network.

This was revealed in a notice issued to customers by Ikeja Electric via mail and sighted by EnergyDay on Wednesday.

The DisCo  claimed that the standalone meters used by them contain an obsolete infrastructure that could no longer be used within its network.

“The upgraded version of the CIS no longer supports card replacement and energy re-issue.”

Customers presently using the key prepaid meter are exempted from this new directive by the DisCo.

Olusola Ayeni, the Corporate Communications officer, Ikeja Electric, when contacted on Wednesday, told EnergyDay that the customers will still have to pay for the new meters they are reapplying for.

Ayeni said, “There’s no meter that is free for now because we are operating what we call MAP for those customers that are willing to pay for meters.”

When asked whether there would be some form of compensation considering that the affected customers will have to pay again after successfully putting a stop to collecting estimated bills by purchasing prepaid meters prior to this time, Ayeni declined to comment, as at the time of filing this report.

EnergyDay recalls that the new directive by the Ikeja DisCo contrasts sharply the approach recently taken by the Management of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to handle a similar matter.

In a similar notice to customers, the EEDC had revealed it upgraded its billing system but undertook to help customers install new meters, under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme, without the requirements for upfront full payment, as it also made a provision for instalment payments spread over 24 months (2 years), to incentive the affected customers.

The DisCo explained that it had been experiencing increasing difficulty in providing support for the card reader system used in vending meters for more than three months, noting that the previous meters were malfunctioning and “no longer reliable” due to age and obsolescence.

To prevent unrest within its network, EEDC provided clarifications in the notice it issued on the discontinuation of the use of obsolete smart card meters used by about 40,000 customers within its network.

“Only the customers on the obsolete standalone meters are affected by this exercise, and they are less than 40,000 in number. For customers that still have unused credit in their meter accounts, these credits will be transferred to their new meter accounts once our team of installers arrive their locations for this exercise.

“For those who have run out of credit, they are encouraged to call the helpline immediately and new meters will be promptly installed for them.

“To address the immediate financial burden on the affected customers, EEDC has undertaken to install new meters under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme without the requirements for upfront full payment, while the installment repayment will be spread over up to 24 months.” the EEDC had stated.

Alhaji Gbadamosi, Chairman, Liberty Community Development Association (CDA), in Alimosho LGA, Lagos, in a chat with our correspondent, said members of his various communities are disheartened that, despite the fact that customers are willing to pay and get prepaid meters installed in their premises, the Ikeja DisCo has continued to give them conditions that are not attainable, especially demanding that they purchase a three-phase prepaid meter as opposed to the single-phase which is more affordable.

He added that some members of the communities in the area have paid for meters but continue to receive estimated bills (as high as N60,000-70,000/4 flats) as the DisCo has refused to install them.

Badamosi further revealed that the DisCo connected more ten (10) streets to a single transformer in Ikotun, Igando area of Alimosho, causing overloading and regularly leaving the people in darkness as it frequently breaks down.

He said that the community leaders have written to the Ikeja DisCo at different times but nothing is yet to be done regarding the transformer and the meter challenges.

Badamosi said that some officials of the DisCo, every Friday, storm the communities demanding payments for outstanding from mostly people who have been inevitably subjected to estimated billing, but end up extorting from customers who would not want their cables disconnected from the power poles.