The Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has committed to ending the over four years prolonged power outage in the Ibeju Lekki Area of Lagos State on or before December 2023 by deploying sufficient capital expenditure (capex) for the procurement of distribution infrastructure to boost supply in the area.
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, EKEDC made this known during the periodic customers engagement forum held in the District on Thursday.
EKEDC MD, who was represented at the forum by Mr, Aik Alenkhe, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) emphasised that the company is committed this time to bring relief to the residents of Ibeju-Lekki, who have been without electricity for over four years.
Alenkhe noted that so much is being done at the moment to improve the power supply in Ibeju-Lekki and its environs to a reasonable level daily, up from its present state.
He said, “Our mission in Eko DisCo is to improve the quality of lives of all customers by utilizing cutting-edge technology to safely, sustainably, and reliably supply electricity. That is what we stand for, and we will continue to promote this.
In addition to the power supply shortage being witnessed in Ibeju-Lekki, two major issues highlighted at the forum were the delay in meter application and debt migration.
The Chief Human Resources Officer(CHRO) said, “It is important to note that the money collected from customers is owned by all the players within the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) value chain.
The remittances to the Market Operator by the DisCos (Distribution Companies) are shared within the value chain, and the balance received by the DisCos is used for infrastructure needs, operations, and staff salaries.
Speaking on how the users of prepaid meters are charged for energy usage, Alenkhe said that the consumption of prepaid users is digitally calculated based on the electricity used within a particular period.
According to him, EKEDC has a facility installed in the head office in Marina, Lagos State, that monitors the consumption of all customers using prepaid meters.
He said, “After deducting the amount of energy used by customers through this technology-based facility, the balance is shared on the bills of customers on estimated billings based on their consumption metrics shown by the meter on the distribution transformer.
“EKEDC calculates bills in a transparent manner accessible to all and is committed to using cutting-edge technology to simplify their operations.
“Before the end of this year you are going to see improvement, and am confirming to all the customers that another engagement forum will hold before the end of the year, to highlight some of the progress that we may have made especially in terms of infrastructure, metering, customer service and all areas of concerns.
“I assure you that all the issues and concerns raised by all customers through letters of petitions will be addressed. You can take my word for it. This is not the period where a DisCo will not take the concerns of customers seriously, the market is now competitive. We are committed to meeting all the needs and satisfying our customers, the EKEDC’s CHRO said.
He further explained that EKEDC reconciles debts after meters have been installed through a 50/50 payment plan to allow customers to service their debt in an easier and more convenient manner.
Alenkhe said, “After migrating the customers to a prepaid system, we usually plan a 50/ 50 arrangement allowing the customers to service their debt in an easier and more convenient manner.
“These are some of the information that most customers do not understand before, so that if anybody comes around to give you a piece of wrong information, let such a person know that you have superior information in place.
“For people that want to apply for meters please, all payments made for the procurement of the meters are refundable. The best thing about EKEDC as a customer-centric company, is that everyone has a clear idea of what not to take into the future. We are focused on how to address the supply challenges that you are having.
Alenkhe apologized to customers in Ibeju-Lekki for the power supply situation assuring significant improvement in few months.
He said, “I apologize on behalf of the management but beyond that, we are committed to what must be done now, to address this huge crisis through investment in infrastructure.
“There are ongoing projects to address the issue of supply instability in Ibeju-Lekki. I can assure you that by the time some of these projects are completed, even before the end of this year, the issues of supply instability that customers in Ibeju-Lekki are having will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Furthermore, Alenkhe responded to allegations that the EKEDC is not a customer-friendly company. He said in the Ibeju-Lekki axis, the company has a very responsive and dedicated customer complaint unit that responds swiftly to the requests of all customers.
He said, “Our portal is also available 24 hours to attend to customers’ concerns. We have a whistle-blowing platform where customers can lodge their complaints and within 48 hours our customer service department will get back to you.
“We have testimonies of customers who have benefited from this technology-driven customer service,” he said
Alenkhe therefore affirmed that all customers who have submitted petition letters to the management are assured of response within two weeks. He promised to get back to them promptly with solutions to their concerns.
He said, “We have acknowledged them, and we will look into it and address all the concerns.”
High Chief Niran Obaoye, a traditional leader in the Adeba community, in Ibeju-Lekki, has pleaded to the management of EKEDC that the customer engagement forum should be held at least two or three times a year.
This according to him will ensure that feedback is received adequately and every issue raised at the engagement forum receives the right feedback. He also noted that another forum will enable the DisCo and the residents to measure the level of implementation.
Chief Obaoye emphasized the need for energizing all feeders and implementing rationing to ensure equal supply. He also highlighted the challenges faced by the community, including faulty prepaid meters and illegal connections.
He said, “The feeders at Elemoro are not functioning at an optimal level. There are three feeders there but only one feeder is energised. Whenever a fault is recorded on the feeder, all the communities connected to the feeders will be thrown into total darkness.
“We want the EKEDC to energise all the feeders, they can also ration the supply in order to allow equal supply. The management needs to also provide motorcycles for supervisors, this is because Ibeju-Lekki is a waterlogged community that cannot be assessed by vehicles.
“Some prepaid meters were distributed two years ago, and some of them are not working. Whenever there’s electricity in the area, such customers are always the victims.
“I believe the problem is not beyond solution. Of course, the customers are often culpable of some of these problems that we have discussed. We are part of the problem, because of some communities. There are illegal connections here and there.
The traditional leader urged EKEDC to improve its supervision, adding that due to the waterlogged nature of Ibeju-Lekki, DisCo should provide motorcycles for supervisors to effectively monitor and address electricity-related issues in the community.
Chief Obaoye acknowledged that some communities are part of the problem due to illegal connections. He called on EKEDC to take action against staff members who aid these illegal connections and generate revenue from them.
He said, “The EKEDC need to also checkmate and sack some of their staff aiding illegal connections, some of whom are responsible for generating revenue from them which is not supposed to be so if we are all working and cooperating with the EKEDC all those bad elements will be eliminated.
“If all of these issues are promptly addressed, then we will have steady electricity, no interruption, no illegal connection, and the problem will be minimized.
“We understand that Elemoro is far from the transmission station in Ajah, but then that is not a yardstick why the people in the communities should not enjoy regular electricity supply, the High Chief said.
Hon. Abdulahi Olowa, Executive Chairman of Ibeju-Lekki Local Council Development Area (LCDA), who was represented at the engagement forum by Mr. Mutiu Olasunkanmi, Supervisor for Works, said that he is in support of all the concerns raised by residents and that Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) should operate within the minimum standards and commit itself to the terms of the agreement with customers.
According to him, EKEDC should endeavour to commit itself to the terms of the agreement with customers, charging the DisCo to be committed to all the promises it made at the forum.
He said, “My people have been without electricity for over four years, and this is a matter of concern. The lack of power has caused significant inconvenience and hardship for the people in the district.
He said that residents, including those from Igondo, Eleko, Iberekodo, Orimedu, Akodo, Magbon Alade, Dangote Refinery, Lekki Idasho, Badore, Idasho, Folu, and other villages in the Eleko environs, had threatened to embark on a protest.
Council Chairman said that in response to the planned-protest, we agreed to a meeting with the management of EKEDC to discuss the situation and find solutions. The EKEDC management has presented their plans to improve the power supply and will give them the opportunity to work within the window of the period requested to carry out necessary installations and repairs.
The Council Chairman expressed the importance of addressing the residents’ concerns and acknowledged that their grievances are genuine.
He stated, “What is fundamental is that the management team of EKEDC has now realized that our people are serious about the need for improved power supply”
” There is a contract to provide electricity to all. Sadly, even the local government secretariat is not powered by the national grid to date, we run all our operations on generators, and you can imagine the cost on our side.
“I urge our people to be patient a bit for Eko DisCo to carry out the installations and repair. The management of EKEDC should as a matter of concern respond to us at Ibeju-lekki. This is the fastest growing community in Lagos State, there is so much revenue to be made by EKEDC if it is serious about providing electricity at least at a minimum standard.
“I could remember 2005 when I came here, we have 24-hour light, now that this environment is developing, and more estates are being developed, the rural communities have transformed into urban centers and cities within 18 years. This is why the DisCo should be committed to upping their game,” Olasunkanmi, Supervisor for Works, Ibeju-Lekki, said.