Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), Community Development Associations (CDAs) and customers under Orile District have agreed to jointly build a common framework to combat the spate of energy theft, vandalism, and estimated billings, with a view to improving the electricity supply to the area.
This was part of the major highlight of issues discussed during the EKEDC’s customer engagement forum held at the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) Training Center in Surulere, Lagos, for customers in Doyin, Sanya, Surulere, Orile, Coker, Aguda, Itire/Ikate, Animashaun, all under Orile District.
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, EKEDC, represented by Mr. Joseph Esenwa, the company’s Chief Finance Officer, in her remark said that the forum will help to find amicable solutions to concerns and other technical-related challenges in the areas under the DisCo’s district.
Esenwa disclosed that the forum is a follow-up to consultations that EKEDC recently had with the customers, community leaders, and landlords across all the ten(10) District areas.
According to him, the forum was meant to strategically evaluate the company’s performance in the Orile district and to boost working relationships with the customers.
He said, “The emphasis at the forum is the ultimate need for collaboration with our customers. As a service provider, we are compelled by industry regulations to deliver available and reliable electricity to our customers.
“We need them to also do their own part, by promptly offsetting their bills. We are in a symbiotic relationship with customers. This is a win-win model, whereby expectations on both sides are optimally achieved to boost cordial relationships and long-term mutual benefits for all.
“Prepaid meters are the only solutions to estimated(crazy) billings. At the moment, there are a couple of schemes on the ground for the purpose of achieving full metering for all our customers, but because of the financial challenges that we are having, it is difficult to fully install all the customers for free.
“We are therefore encouraging our customers to take full advantage of the Meter Asset Provider Scheme,(MAP), which will be installed and energized within 72 days. This would help them avoid estimated billings.
“The National Mass Metering Programme, an initiative of the Federal Government, is the other available option, which comes for free to customers, with loan obligations to the DisCos. This scheme requires a process that must be achieved, and this often takes a long time. Phase Zero has been completed and we are getting set to commence Phase One.
“Customers who could not wait for the commencement of the second phase of NMMP, should go for MAP to avoid the crazy billings. We guarantee that whatever amount that was spent in acquiring the meters by customers, would be rewarded through a certain percentage of power that would be given to that particular customer, as compensation.
Speaking about EKEDC’s preparation to improve power supply during Christmas and the end of the year period, Esenwa assured customers that whatever is provided by the grid system will be distributed across the network.
He also encouraged customers in the Orile district to get their meters in order to be served constant electricity during the festive period.
On proposition for collaborations and combative efforts against vandals, the CFO said, “EKEDC is committed to working with the CDAs and community leaders to step up the commitment to protecting distribution assets. The customers must also be ready to pay their bills.
“We want them to be organised and ensure that cases of meter bypasses are promptly reported to us. We are determined to prosecute such customers using available legal means. The collaboration will also assist us to recover our money, and enable us to invest more in infrastructure.
The CFO however agreed with the suggestion of some of the community leaders for the installation of a solar lighting system around distribution transformers in the area.
This according to him is a suggestion that is well-received. He noted that this would help to light up the power transformers whenever there are outages.
While commending the conduct of the community leaders during the forum, the representative of the EKEDC’s MD/CEO, noted that the customers under Orile District demonstrated maturity in the way they presented all their grievances and major concerns. He assured them of the commitment of the EKEDC’s management to prompt response to all the issues.
The majority of the customers and community leaders who attended the forum on Thursday, commended the information unit of Orile District for prompt response to concerns raised by customers, whenever calls are made to the customers care and relation officers.
They however complained about the inadequate power supply, estimated billing, and need for EKEDC to improve on the installations of prepaid metering.
Mr. Ahmed Joseph, a customer from Masha Zone, while commending the customer care unit for the promptness to issues, urged EKEDC to be more transparent with billings of customers who are under the estimated billings system.
He also charged EKEDC to establish a special marshal with CDAs in the District. According to him, the proposed special marshal would act as liaison officers in their respective areas to address critical power issues.
He said, “ The duty of the special marshal is to boost EKEDC’s collection efficiency and engender common understanding on fault remediation, while also limiting power outages associated with delayed faulty distribution facilities.
Engr. Abdulateef Olaogun, Community Development Committee (CDC) in his remark at the forum noted that electricity from the national grid system is cheaper than power from the generator.
He said, “This is not the first time and second time of having this engagement session. I admit that the Orile District officials of the EKEDC have been engaging us on a regular basis. It is unfortunate that the economic situation in the country has adversely affected power distribution in the country.
“This is why it is important to establish a common ground with the DisCo, to address all the issues of major concerns. The community appreciates the understanding of the EKEDC with the improved power supply and prompt response to the repair.
“If Nigeria, a country with a population of 200 million people cannot generate more than 10,000MegaWatts of electricity, then it is impossible for the DisCos to provide constant and reliable electricity. We are aware of this, and so there is no need to mount undue pressure on EKEDC,” the Orile CDC Chairman cautioned.
Prince Femi Bakare, CDA Chairman, Surelere/Ikate, commended the management of EKEDC for regularly organising the forum as a way of finding lasting solutions to major problems raised by customers under its franchise area.
He said, “The forum also provided solutions to some radical questions that are beyond the capacity of the District head. A lot of customers got what they wanted, this was peacefully done at the engagement forum. Some of our members who were prepared for war, prior to the commencement of the meeting, got solutions to all their concerns, even before issues were discussed at the forum.
“We commend the senior officials of the EKEDC for their approach in addressing all the major concerns raised by the customers. The issues that could have resulted in a crisis were resolved in a mature way by the representative of MD/CEO.
“ We received a better briefing about what is being done and approaches deployed by the DisCo in addressing power challenges in the country. We are committed to going back to our community to educate them. The power supply is a working progress, all the players must foster better working relationships. It is impossible for EKEDC to solve all the issues at a time based on budget.
The Ikate CDA Chairman however urged customers to pay their electricity bills.
Engr. Ejike Azubuike, a customer, while condemning EKEDC for billing him even after disconnecting one of his properties, charged the management of DisCo to restructure its operational framework to reduce inefficiency and tendencies aimed at short-changing customers.
While commending the Orile District for good customer relationship, he charged the DisCo to improve on its promptness in rectifying faults on the distribution network.
The EKEDC’s CFO, however, warned landlords to start taking responsibility for all electricity billings in their properties. He noted that property owners have the obligations to monitor the payment of bills by their tenants.
He said, “It is you that we know, when tenants are moving into the properties they signed documents with you. We, therefore, charged you to take full responsibility of electricity assets including meters in your facilities.
“Always monitor the way your tenants settle their electricity bill. If they have accumulated outstanding bills, ensure that it is not getting too much beyond what you can bear in case they move out of the property.
The representative of Dr. Tinuade Sanda, therefore, charged the landlord and estate managers not to allow tenants to incur up to ten(10) years of electricity bills, amounting to millions of Naira, when moving out of the properties. He warned that EKEDC will pass on the bills to the owners of the building.
Mr. Esenwa also noted that EKEDC has recently acquired over 120,000 distribution transformers that would be distributed across all the 10 districts in the network, assuring that other repairs and installations are being conducted across the franchise area to guarantee constant and improved electricity.