Residents of Costain Railway Quarters in Enugu Metropolis have staged a peaceful protest against alleged high electricity bills and frequent power outage in their area. The protesters obstructed business activities at the headquarters of the Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, in Okpara Avenue Enugu for nearly one hour as they blocked the main entrance of the firm.
Chanting songs of displeasure, the angry Protestors displayed placards with inscriptions. Some of them were: “EEDC Don’t Kill us with Bills,” “We are tired of darkness,” “Minimum wage is ₦18,000.00 but EEDC Monthly Bill is ₦28,000.00,” “EEDC High Monthly Bill is Corruption,” among others. Some of the protesters told Radio Nigeria that the estimated bills EEDC sent to them far outweighed their power consumption, as they stayed days in darkness.
“Some of our meters are working but they will fail to read them, whatever they like they put it in the bill, despite recurring voltage in my area.”
“They give us bill of ₦18, 000.00, ₦19,000.00 every month; they don’t even come to our (analogue) meter. If we pay ₦5, 000.00, they will still come and cut (disconnect) the light. We are tired of all this.”
“Am a pensioner, I live in only two rooms and they give us ₦28, 000.00 per month, how much is my pension? Pencom pays me ₦15, 000.00 a month as pension. Do they want to kill us?”
“I have only TV and fan, I don’t even have fridge but they give me over ₦17, 000. 00. Even when you don’t have light, you must expect the electricity bill. This is extortion.”
“The minimum wage is ₦18 but my own bill is ₦22, 000.000 and this increase started since January, some started experiencing theirs since December. We have been complaining but they refused to do anything, they don’t even care. Personally I written them to come and take their wire, I don’t need their services again because I can’t pay. They still don’t want to come and collect their wire.”
They also alleged that officials of the Electricity Firm often failed to effect repairs when faults at the transformers were reported.
“Often times when we will call the marketer, he will tell us that he cannot reach the Feeder Manager, if we source for the phone number of the Feeder Manager and call him, he will tell us that he is not around. Presently, we have been in darkness for 5 days running.”
The Protesters refused to vacate the entrance of the EEDC office until an official of the Company called a few of them for dialogue with the Management. After the meeting that lasted about an hour, the Leader of the protesting group, Mr. Daniel Edeh, said that the EEDC Management promised to improve on power supply to their area by rectifying the faulty ends and would install smart pre-payment meter in their houses.
“They said that the fault we are having at the community, that immediately after this meeting they are going to rectify it so that the light will be on.”
Mr. Edeh said that the company claimed it was not responsible for the high electricity tariff.
“That they are not the ones that fixed the charges; that it is from the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). That their (EEDC) own is giving them number of consumption rate in a transformer per month, then the NERC will do the billing they saw.”
The Protester said they would further take their complaints to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission.