…DisCo vows to reduce power supply outage, increase meter installation
Electricity customers in Apapa have confirmed improvement in power supply and support fight against vandalism, as Eko electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has decried the surge in illegal connections and the theft of over a hundred Distribution Transformers (DT), resulting in more than N100 million in replacement costs and other additional expenses incurred on vandalized distribution equipment across all its franchise area, in 2023 alone.
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of EKEDC made this disclosure during the customer engagement forum at the DisCo’s Apapa Business Unit, which drew the participation of electricity users from Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amukoko, Badia, Ajegunle, Tolu community, Plaza, Idewu, Odofin, Sari, Boundary and Apapa.
According to her vandalism of DT and cables is particularly prevalent in the Yaba, Ijora, Surulere, Mushin, and Apapa axis, and the major message passed to customers at the Apapa customers forum was focused on the impact of energy theft and distribution infrastructure vandalism on the supply to these areas.
Dr. Sanda, who was represented at the forum by Mrs. Rekhiat Momoh, EKEDC’s Chief Commercial Officer, highlighted the prevalence of energy theft and vandalism, particularly in Surulere and Apapa.
She therefore urged customers to take responsibility and report incidents of energy theft and vandalism in their communities to the Police and other relevant security operatives.
While expressing frustration over the capital expenditure that has gone into the replacement of distribution transformers and power infrastructure vandalised within a year under the network, Mrs. Momoh charged customers to speak up and assist her company in reducing the cost.
She said, “When you see things happening in your environment, especially where people are stealing energy or transformers are being vandalized, endeavour to take responsibility.
“As a matter of fact, EKEDC recorded more than a hundred transformers that have been vandalized within our network, this year alone. The average cost of replacement for each is a million Naira or it can also be more depending on the size of the facility that was vandalized. This is very rampant in Surulere, especially in Apapa.
“We have therefore used the customer engagement forum to reecho the theme of our 2023 edition of Fraud Awareness Week which was “If You See Something, Say Something” because we believe that even these criminals are domiciled within the communities.
“So, with proper surveillance and theft awareness, the leadership of the Community Development Committee, traditional leaders and other concerned customers can help us to reduce the activities of these criminals within their environment and reduce energy and equipment theft to lowest.
Mrs. Momoh further mentioned the sharing of whistle-blowing numbers with community leaders to encourage reporting of suspicious activities, assuring anonymity for those who come forward.
EKEDC Chief Commercial Officer explained that the decision to install prepaid meters on electricity poles is aimed at curbing energy theft.
She said, “By installing the meters high up on electricity poles, it becomes easier to detect any tampering or bypassing of the meters. This approach is part of EKEDC’s efforts to bridge the metering gap and reduce power supply outages.
“Installing meters in customers’ bedrooms and sitting rooms would prevent access and encourage energy theft, but placing the prepaid meters on an electricity pole would allow for easier monitoring by the officials of the DisCo to detect bypassing,” she said.
Momoh further noted that EKEDC is committed to the ambitious target of installing a significant number of prepaid meters before the end of 2023, with a focus on improving the hourly supply of electricity to customers and reducing energy losses.
She acknowledged that the company’s initial target was 150,000 prepaid meters, adding that over 80,000 have been installed so far. She expressed the company’s commitment to reaching the 100,000 mark before the end of the year and encouraged customers to apply for more meters under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) framework.
The EKEDC Chief Commercial Officer emphasized the need for improved financial performance and investment, expressing concern over the high losses experienced by the DisCo in 2023 alone which she said is averaging between 20 percent and 28%.
Mrs. Momoh revealed that the EKEDC’s collection rate stands at an average of 85%, indicating a positive trend in revenue generation.
She therefore urged customers to promptly settle their bills to ensure the company’s financial stability and encourage the company’s investment in infrastructure and service improvements.
She added that support from customers plays a significant role in influencing the performance of the DisCo and ensuring frequent power supply in the area.
Mrs. Momoh also emphasized that while EKEDC has phased out most wooden poles, there are still areas that are difficult for officials to access due to the nature of the terrain and how some of the buildings are mapped.
She noted that some of the areas including Lagos Island pose challenges for installing concrete poles, leading to the continued use of wooden poles in such locations.
The Chief Commercial Officer of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) emphasized the commitment of the company, under the leadership of Dr. Sanda, to its corporate and strategic goals aimed at addressing operational challenges and maintaining its reputation as the leading customer-centric DisCo in Nigeria.
HRM Oba Moroof Oyekunle Amodu-Tijani, Olu Iwa of Iwa and Apapa Kingdom emphasized the need for heightened security measures to combat the rampant vandalization of power infrastructure in the Apapa and environs.
He said, “The meeting provided a platform for customers to voice their concerns regarding the performance of the DisCo, with a major focus on the alarming rate of vandalism.
Oba Oyekunle urged the leadership of every district, estate, and streets in Apapa to prioritize the security of power infrastructure, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and community cooperation.
He therefore cautioned the residents of Apapa against taking the law into their own hands and instead advocated for apprehending and handing over any individuals found vandalizing property to the police.
Olu Iwa of Iwa and Apapa Kingdom stressed the significance of respecting electricity distribution equipment and discouraged bypassing or tampering with such infrastructure.
He underscored his kingdom’s commitment to collaborating with EKEDC officials to address these challenges and ensure an improved power supply within the kingdom.
Oba Oyekunle acknowledged the critical role of electricity from the national grid, which he claimed is cheaper than self-generated power, particularly in light of rising fuel costs. He therefore pledged the commitment of his Kingdom and the Council of Chiefs in Apapa to work effectively with Eko Disco to enhance the power supply in Apapa.
The traditional ruler highlighted the importance of promptly reporting any issues to EKEDC and expressed confidence in the utility’s commitment to a robust emergency response.
Professor Choima Ntiaba, 2nd Vice Chairman of Apapa CDC, in her contribution at the forum, lauded the improved power supply in the Apapa district, commending the proactive response of EKEDC officials to downtime and fault repair.
She emphasized the need for customers in the Apapa area to support EKEDC’s efforts by promptly paying their electricity bills.
Furthermore, Professor Ntiaba highlighted the high electricity tariff and emphasized the establishment of coordination platforms, such as WhatsApp and social media groups, district by district, to enhance collection efficiency and address relevant issues related to electricity supply in the area.
She stressed the importance of community involvement in identifying and reporting any unauthorized individuals near transformers, particularly during vulnerable times such as heavy rain and power outages.
Due to the rate of DT vandalism in the area which she claimed usually occurs around the early hours of the morning between 2 am and 4 am whenever there are outages, Professor Ntiaba proposed the implementation of strict security measures to safeguard transformers.
Professor Ntiaba therefore called on the leadership of estates, local government, and particularly neighborhood watch groups, to be actively engaged in safeguarding the distribution transformers. She also suggested the construction of protective enclosures with locks to prevent vandalism.