Ms. Funmilade Adewole, a young fashion-preneur returned from work with a technician, whom she watched keenly as he struggled to fix her generator on a Saturday evening in the Aguda area of Lagos.
A 27-year-old fashion designer, she lamented on the poor electricity supply to her neighbourhood and the ‘outrageous bills’ she and her neighbours are forced to pay at the end of each month in recent times. She went on to say, instead of the reasonable N2, 000 she used to pay in the past, she now pays excess of N7, 000 for far less electricity supply. After an unsuccessful battle with her generator, she invited an electrician to bypass her meter, so that when EKEDC restores the light, she would enjoy such, without reading on her meter. Who knew she was contributing to her outrageous bills, with her own hands?
Oh, you ask how?!
Wait, a few houses away from where the 27-year-old Funmilade lives was another house with jam-packed electricity cables leading in. A frantic examination of the House showed how dubiously the occupants had bypassed the meter.
There are hundreds of homes on Lagos Island and mainland, who are guilty of this criminal act of bypassing electricity meters.
Now, are you aware that Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has frantically said the act of bypassing electricity meters was responsible for high estimated billing, otherwise known as “crazy bill” in most communities. A new parlance in town, orchestrated by a popular skit maker, “E shock you?!”, would fit aptly after the aforementioned revelation.
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, the Managing Director, EKEDC, made this known at different times during customer engagement forums organised by the Disco in Lagos.
The Disco, apart from supplying electricity to houses, has also ensured it contributes to the infrastructural development, in Lagos state. With over 120,000 transformers, it has improved supply and commenced installation across its distribution system. EKEDC’s prompt response to faults and customer service has actually been commended by its customers.
The disco draws customers at different fora from various areas under Orile District, including Surulere, Aguda, Coker, Orile, Ikate, Animashaun and Doyin zones, by the ears, sounding note of warnings on this. The essence of EKEDC’s meetings was to collaborate with customers. EKEDC’s town hall meetings also create avenues to interface with customers and address issues confronting various communities under EKEDC’s network.
The problems confronting electricity customers, though enormous, create an avenue for peaceful discussion and how they could be addressed.
The management of EKEDC, under Dr. Tinuade Sanda has been very responsive and committed to power improvement in its area of coverage.
As a matter of fact, estimated billing was a product of energy theft within a community, which included bypassing electricity meters. The act of bypassing electricity meters is one of the major causes of estimated billing.
As a company, EKEDC bills accurately based on consumption on every feeder, while it also discovers that some customers engage in energy theft within the communities.
“There is a need for every customer to be vigilant to identify those engaging in energy theft in the communities,” Tinuade Sanda said at one of the meetings.
The company, in earnest, will commence the installation of meters on poles to curb energy theft and bypass of meters within its network.
On metering, Sanda said the company had commenced effective metering through the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme where meters would be installed within 10 working days after confirmation of payment. Therefore, customers need to key into the MAP scheme as a way of addressing estimated billings.
EKEDC had installed over 78,000 free meters under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) Phase 0 Scheme. The NMMP is an initiative of the Federal Government, where meters are provided to customers for free, and the goal of the initiative is to meter all customers within five years (2025).
The NMMP had been suspended, hence Phase 1 of the programme was yet to commence.
“Pending when it commences, l urge you to key into the ongoing MAP scheme; all is to eliminate estimated billing and bridge the metering gap.
“The more customers that participate in the scheme, the better our chances of metering all customers,” she said.
At this juncture however, EKEDC must also be tasked with reorientation of its field officers towards effective customer service delivery.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspaper