Ika Landlords/Landladies meet with BEDC,insist on prepaid metres, quality service
By Augustine Ekamagule
In their untiring efforts towards ensuring stable electricity without outrageous billings,an apex pressure group in Ika land,Ika Landlords/Landladies Association,on Friday last week met with the Chief Executive Officer,Benin Electricity Distribution Company,in Delta State,Mr Ernest Edgar.The meeting which was held at Ika National Hall,Agbor was attended by the President, Ika Landlords/Landladies Association,Mr Vincent Arimoku,members of his executive and electricity consumers from the various communities in Ika land.
According to Mr Arimoku, the meeting was a follow up of the previous one with BEDC held at the office of the honourable commissioner for Power and Energy,in Asaba,where the issues of prepaid metres,outrageous monthly billing,nonchalant attitude of BEDC staff towards customers, among others were discussed.
In his opening remark,Mr Arimoku, welcomed the BEDC boss to Ika land,pointing out that the area despite its commitment in payments of monthly electricity bills,has continued to suffer below average service fromBEDC.He listed areas BEDC has been shortchanging electricity consumers in Ika land to include:delay in the issuance of free prepaid metres to customers,overestimation or outrageous monthly bills, forceful disconnection of customers whenever BEDC staff are embarrassed by an individual and forceful payment for transformers, armoured cables and poles by customers whenever they are vandalized by hoodlums. He on behalf of his association called on BEDC to urgently and properly addressed the problems, hence, the company will be forced to disconnect all customers in Ika land and leave the area.He insisted that they are not going to pay for prepaid metres as directed by National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.He wondered why BEDC is dragging to make prepaid metres available for her customers.
Mr Arimoku’s remark was accompanied with an applause from the aggrieved Landlords/Landladies who are stil prepared for a show down with the electricity company if it fails to meet their demands.Delegates from the various communities in the area took time to present their cases before the BEDC boss.Their complaints were not different from those same issues that informed the convening of the meeting. They expressed sadness that BEDC rather than render quality service to her customers is ripping them off with outrageous monthly electricity bills.They appealed to the electricity distribution company to provide them prepaid metres and improve their service if they want them to continue doing business with them.
Responding the Delta BEDC officer, Mr Ernest Edgar who was at the meeting with the Business Manager, Agbor District, Mr Curtis Nwadei and other officials of the company, thanked Ika Landlords/Landladies for settling for dialogue rather than resorting to violence in driving home their demands. He disclosed that his company as one of the distribution companies(DISCOs)in Nigeria is in charge of four States which include; Delta, Edo,Ekiti and Ondo.He said the reason for the meeting was to find how the demands of their customers in Ika land could be met,noting that without the customers they would not have been operating in the area.He stated that the challenges of improved power supply is not peculiar to Ika land alone,as it is the same thing in different communities across the country, stressing, “it is what we receive from generating and transmission companies that we distribute to our customers.The amount of energy the whole country produces is not enough to have 24hours in Delta State.Every one million population uses 1000megawatts,the population of Delta State i believe is more than three million.Currently, the country produces an average megawatts of 3600.And what BEDC gets from the national grid is 9% of the amount of power generated. Delta State gets between 230-250 megawatts. We always ensure that every location gets up to six hours electricity every day.”
On the issues of prepaid metres and improved customer service, Mr Edgar said, “the law stipulates that the distribution companies should provide free metres to their customers.Unfortunately,the number of customers are far more than the number of available prepaid metres.Currently, we have 30,000 prepaid metres to distribute to our customers in the four states we are controlling. We urge qualified and interested customers to apply.Prepaid metres are free but a customer must pay 40% of what he or she is owing us before he will get one.I want to also use this medium to beg you to report any of our staff who collects money from customers to buy materials. We will not stop estimated monthly bills but we will always ensure that it is not overestimated. We will continue to serve our customers well as we want them to reciprocate through prompt payment of their bills”.
Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Mr Arimoku said that they are not going to relent until BEDC improves her service in Ika land and also provide prepaid metres freely to all their customers in the area.He thanked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for initiating the move that made the meeting possible.
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Source: Front line