The Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has pleaded for the collaboration of traditional leaders, Community Development Committee (CDC), the Nigeria Police authorities and customers under Orile District to clamp down the rising wave of vandalism and sabotage of distribution infrastructures including transformers, cables, and poles as well as a bypass of prepaid meters under the franchise district.
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director, EKEDC made this known during the periodic 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 on Thursday.
The EKEDC’s MD who was represented by Mrs Rekhiat Momoh, Chief Commercial Officer at EKEDC, disclosed that the rampart cases of vandalism of power infrastructure especially in Lagos Central Senatorial district have continued to place a heavy burden on the operational cost and balance sheets of the DisCo.
According to her, the spate of vandalism has been on the increase in Orile, Apapa, Ijora, and Mushin axis. We are losing too much in terms of collections. This is becoming a huge financial burden running into millions of Naira. These are funds that should have been used to expand our network infrastructure.
She stated that the distribution transformers (DTs) are a major infrastructure commonly vandalised by criminals in the axis.
She said, “For instance, we spend an average of N1 million to replace four electrical cables when they are completely removed and stolen from a transformer. We record cases of transformer vandalism and other related issues on a weekly basis in these particular areas.
Speaking about the number of vandals that have been arrested and prosecuted by the DisCo in 2023 alone, Momoh said that EKEDC has apprehended over 90 criminals within the last 6 months, adding that all of them have been sentenced by the courts to different jail terms.
Addressing the concerns over the failure of EKEDC to energize some transformers bought by the customers, Momoh stated that most times the delay is caused by the unavailability of sufficient resources to procure the accessories needed to energise the transformers.
She said the cost of accessories for installing distribution transformers is often higher than the price of the transformer. It, therefore, costs us more to get these accessories.
“There is also a regulatory provision that makes it compulsory for the DisCo to undertake a business justification process on a community seeking to relieve transformers from the Discos.
“When bills are settled, the burden of the huge financial outlay entailed in providing transformers is reduced and such communities can be energised. For instance, if EKEDC is collecting about 99 percent of the billings in such a community, we will hastily install DT in the area.
“For any transformer that needs relief or needs to be replaced, the customers should ensure to update the payment of their bills by ensuring that they are up to date,” the EKEDC’s CCO said.
Speaking about some of the successes that have been achieved since the last engagement with the customers in Orile District, Momoh said, quite a lot of things have changed since the last time we met, especially in terms of the metering of customers and promptness in response to downtime.
“We need the customers to keep paying their bills and ensure that they collaborate with us in the area of reducing the spate of prepaid meter bypass and vandalism in the district,” she said.
The EKEDC CCO further emphasised that a minimum of 7000 prepaid meters are installed across all the franchise areas on a monthly basis. She added that EKEDC , as a leading DisCo in the country in terms of number of customers that have been metered, is also committed to closing the metering gaps.
Chief Akeem Ojora, Bashorun of Iganmu kingdom, a representative of the paramount ruler of Ijora and Orile Iganmu Kingdom, in his remark during the forum explained that the electricity customers and EKEDC need to work together to address power supply challenges in the district.
He said, “Whenever there are challenges over the inadequate supply of electricity, customers should avoid taking laws into their hands by vandalising, attacking, and harassing officials of the DisCo. These are men doing their legitimate works, they have families and are our brothers and sisters.
“Customers should learn to register their concerns through the appropriate channels including reaching out to the management of the DisCo.
“The distribution infrastructures are our collective responsibilities, and the palace of the Ojora, Chiefs, and offices of the CDAs are also opened for aggrieved customers to obtain justice for all the issues concerning the supply of electricity.
Bashorun Ojora also encouraged President Bola Tinubu to urgently ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefit of his government by focusing on the power sector.
He further charged President Bola Tinubu focus on improving the power sector under his administration. He also charged the new government to collaborate with the DisCos and other critical players in the NESI by ensuring the formulation of policies and support required to improve their performances.
He added that the power sector reform is fundamental to improvement of the country’s economy as well as upscaling the general wellbeing of all Nigerians.
Alh. Razak Olaogun, President of Community Development Committee (CDC) Coker Aguda, while commending EKEDC for improved power supply in the district, emphasised that the management of the DisCo needs to do more in the area of increasing the number of houses that are installed with prepaid meters.
He said, “The DisCos are the closest Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry(NESI) players to the customers, because most of us don’t understand the roles of the Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN), Generation Companies(GenCos) and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Authority (NERC).
“The removal of subsidy on petrol has again reaffirmed the roles of national grid to all electricity customers. This is because the expensive pump prices of petrol has made electricity from the grid cheaper. So, customers do not have a cheaper choice to make than to partner with DisCo for the supply of electricity.
“Customers and EKEDC are partners in such a time like this. This partnership must be strengthened to ensure that optimal satisfaction is enjoyed by all parties. It is therefore mandatory for EKEDC to focus more on investing in its infrastructure and guaranteeing improved power supply to the customers,” the Coker Aguda CDC President said.
Babatunde Lasaki EKEDC General Manager, Corporate Communications and Strategy. while giving a closing remark at the engagement forum charged customers in Orile District to take advantage of all the EKEDC’s communication channels to address their concerns.
This according to him will ensure that the customer-service providers’ working relationship is improved to the highest level.
Lasaki said, “We are here to serve you. If we are doing well, tell others who do not know about that. If we are not satisfying you enough, ensure that you hastily reach out to us, in order to address all the issues. We are a reputable and reliable partner committed to boosting our service delivery to our customers.