By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab
Residents of Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, have decried the ‘outrageous’ electricity tariff charged by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and threatened to protest.
In separate interviews with NATIONAL WATCH, they said that the estimated bills distributed for the months of August and September reflected a huge hike in tariff.
Mr Emmanuel Agbejide, a resident under Feeder 1, said he received a bill of N13,269.70 for August and September respectively as against the N6,000 and N8,000 for the previous months.
“I don’t think there is any reason whatsoever for the AEDC to come up with this bill at a time like this when Nigerians are grappling with the harsh economic situation.
“I will resist it and I know other residents will do. We will put our heads together to decide whether we will continue to use electricity or source for an alternative,“ he said.
Agbejide who faulted the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for phasing out the analogue meter in a haste, said the company ought to have provided prepayment meters for consumers before taking such a decision.
Alhaji Usman Bello, who is also under Feeder 1, said AEDC was exploiting customers under the guise of estimated billing.
He said that consumers in his area have always contributed money to repair faulty transformers and other minor repairs without getting refund from the company.
“We always go round the community to plead with members to contribute money whenever we have problems with the transformer or electricity cables in our area.
“Whenever we report any problem to AEDC, they will always tell us to write and when we write it will take them time to respond to the problem.
“Thereafter, they will ask us to wait or to fix the problem because waiting for them will delay the repairs,“ he said.
Moses Ada, an engineer, said that the outrageous bills distributed to consumers for the two months would further strain the frosty relationship between the company and the costumers.
“I foresee a situation where this will cause more problems between the company and the customers rather than cementing the relationship between the duo.
“I think what the company should be doing now is to build confidence between it and its customers in order to retain their patronage,“ he said.
He said that with this development, a number of customers who cannot pay the bills would consider other sources of power for their households.
Mrs Helen Abu, a food vendor and occupant of a room and parlour apartment, said that since the bill was given to her, she has been thinking about where to source for the money.
“I don’t think our welfare matters to those in power in this country and this includes the electricity company who gave us these bills.
“I will always support any action my fellow residents in this community come up with to register our grievances in respect of the bills.
“I want to appeal to the AEDC to have a rethink and review the tariff downward to avoid any conflict with residents of this area,“ she said.
Mr Sunday David, a welder, said that the current electricity bills being shared to customers is outrageous and appealed to the company for a downward review.
He said if the bills are retained, they (customers) would have no option than to resort to the language that would make AEDC revert to the old tariff.
NATIONAL WATCH reports that there was widespread anger by electricity consumers when the bills were distributed to households in Lokoja recently.
An official of the company who spoke to NATIONAL WATCH on condition of anonymity said that the new tariff has come to stay, adding that the company was paying so much to buy power.
“We cannot sell power to customers below the amount of money we bought it from the generating company,“ he said.
He advised customers to go and buy prepayment meter to avoid the estimated billing.