The lights went out of a dialogue between officials of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company and a group of residents of Ajao Estate to resolve disagreement over demand for pre-paid meters recently.
The IKEDC had invited the Ajao Estate based citizens ‘rights advocacy group, Forum for Evolution and Progressive Development to a meeting in response to the group’s campaign for prepaid meters launched a few weeks ago.
FEDP’s leader Comrade Sadiku Olushoga led the advocates to the meeting.
The IKEDC delegates included Mrs. Yemisi, Mrs. Fadeke, Mr. Ayeni and the Chief Security Officer of the Company, Mr. Mandu Obot.
Ajao Estate has, over the years, served as the hub of commercial, industrial and economic activities catering to the needs of travelers and freight forwarders.
But the blackout is shutting life out of businesses and homes causing residents to rally round to redeem the situation.
Echonews learnt that FEDP presented three demands:
-IKEDC must as a matter of urgency, install 3 phase meters in all the homes and businesses in Ajao Estate.
– All IKEDC staff should as a matter of urgency, desist from sharing bills bases on estimated billing system; because it will be vehemently resistedIKEDC must as a matter of urgency, install 3 Phased Meters in all the homes and Business places in Ajao Estate.
– All IKEDC staff should as a matter of urgency, desist from sharing bills based on estimated billing system;
-transfer or remove allegedly hostile undertaking managers for Ajao Estate such as Mr, Pius, Mr. kehinde Dolamu and Mr. Kenneth Oguine.
Responding, Chief Security Officer Obot said the company was determined to make the three phase meters available but it would depend on the supply by the manufacturers.
He explained that the supply could not cope with the demands hence the gap that was witnessed by the costumers.
He assured that as soon as the meters are available, distribution and installation will resume.
“If I keep meters in the office, for sure I’m creating an avenue for fraudulent activities but, for now meters are unavailable, as soon as delivery are made distribution and installation will continue”, he said.
Echoing Mr Obot, another official, Mr. Ayeni assured customers of the commitment of IKEDC to continue to distribute and install the micro device, whenever its available.
Imploring them to be patient till the device will be made available, Mr. Ayeni, spoke of customers’ illegal by-pass of meters. Narrating how such by-pass (alterations) are done, after installation by some customers. He sighted the instance of a woman in Ikorodu who was later apprehended.
Also speaking on behalf of IKEDC, Barrister Yemisi denied the allegation of exorbitant billings by the company and explained, that bills are not estimated arbitrarily. She said the distribution company pays stern adherence to the billing methodology given by the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission N.E.R.C.
But FEDP members were not persuaded by the arguments. As they demanded to know the actual time, the power measurement and regulation device will be available.
Barrister Okafor, a legal practitioner and a staunch member of the advocate group, reiterated their grievances over any further attempt to issue estimated bills and also complained about the high tariff rates of the bill and uneven hours allocated.
The Chairman of the Activist Group, Mr. Sadiku Olushoga highlighted inefficiency and incompetence of some executive sales representatives. Explaining some unprofessional actions by the Undertaking Manager and other sales executives in Ajao estate which had prior to the meeting, prompted countless petition against the officials.
Further requests for a specific time that the for the availability of the device were not addressed as the officials claimed they were not in the position to give a certain date.
In response to the allegations, the Corporate Affairs Manager, Oshodi Unit, Miss Fadeke appreciated the petitions and said they were feedback vital in any organization. She urged the customers, to ensure, they have substantial and convincing evidence of any allegation against staff or ineffective services from the company.
She added that no decisive step can be taken by the judicial disciplinary committee of the company on any baseless allegation or petition against any of the staff.
Agitation for better power supply followed the decline in the service following the take-over of the defunct National Electric Power Authority, NEPA by the IKEDC.
According to a source: ” Once the natural Sun sets, our homes are thrown into darkness.”
The most recent of the protests is the “NO PREPAID METER, NO PAYMENT” protest of the community with posters on display all over the Estate, the level of this protest, prompted an urgent intervention by the Headquarters officials of IKEDC.
The IKEDC Business Unit in the Estate, has been tagged as incompetent and unprofessional, in their customer relationship, and petitions written against the principal officers of the unit.
Although, the resolution meeting was rescheduled by the officials for proper and adequate preparation before it finally took place. Still, the interval wasn’t enough to reduce the tension of the aggrieved group and residents.