Electricity consumers in Anambra state have been groaning over what was described as outrageous electricity bills given to them by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company every month. They have decried the over billing issue and also non-provision of prepaid meters by the company, forcing them to resort to estimated billing system.
Residents claimed that they have long been demanding for the installation of prepaid meters. But that has not been the case as most buildings are still issued with estimated bills.
The residents believe that hey are being cheated by the distribution company and this has caused a strain on the relationship between the company and its customers. This is evident in the recent assault on EEDC officials while on duty.
Reports show that the average individuals living in rented flats paid between N9,000 and N18,000 monthly as house rent, but energy bills issued to them by EEDC ranged from N10,000 to N25,000.
The residents of the state have on may occasions marched out in protest against the distribution company and its activities.
The chairman of the Otakpo Layout Residents Association, Comrade Muoneme Emmanuel, after their protest against the company that obstructed traffic on Nkwelle-Nsugbe Road, said the residents had suffered untold exploitation and hardship at the hands of EEDC.
He stated that they received monthly estimated bills ranging from N10,000 to N25,000 from the Enugu disco, while they have been left largely in darkness owing to erratic power supply.
During the protest, the residents displayed placards that had inscriptions such as: “The era of silence is gone; give us light in Otakpo Estate,” “We need pre-paid meters, no more delay,” “No more estimated bills; we are angry” and “Come and settle or we cut it, the EEDC style.”
Secretary of the layout, Chuks Okeke, and legal practitioners in the area, Humphrey Agbo and E. O. Igowe, urged EEDC to suspend further handing out of estimated bills to the residents henceforth and provide them with pre-paid meters. They requested for regular electricity to be restored to the area. They threatened that, if their demands were not met within 21 days, they would embark on wide demonstrations to press home their demands.
The EEDC responded to the protest through their Head of Communications, Mr Emeka Ezeh, who pleaded with the public to be patient and realise that they usually bought energy from a transmission company and sold it to their customers.
He explained that the company has a peculiar method used for estimating its customers’ bills adding that if any community is not comfortable with the method an investigation can be carried out for them. On metering, he said that the company was struggling to bridge the metering gap and pledged that, very soon, things would change for the better.
“We are currently distributing pre-paid meters but we started with big consumers, companies and industries.
“We inherited over 700,000 unmetered customers and metering them costs billions of naira. Installations are ongoing; we know there are challenges but we are addressing them.