In Laaga community of Ewu-Elepe, a suburb of Ikorodu, residents have been made to pay an estimated bill that is more than the minimum wage in Nigeria. The steady rise in the bill is very discomforting in a country where the rate of inflation keeps rising.
The residents of Laaga, a community with few pre-paid meters, have been suffering in silence for months. So it became very unbearable with the bill sent for January, 2022, to huseholds in the last few days, a whopping N23,000 only! It is such an exasperating amount that everyone is lamenting.
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From findings, this rate is not just for Laaga community, the rate is also applicable to adjoining communities: Mowo Kekere, Oke Eletu, Eleshin, among others. This means it has become general exploitation of residents of Ikorodu, especially those on Ijede Road.
Our rights as electricity consumers in Nigeria have been trampled upon. New electricity connections are not done strictly based on metering before connection. The community is filled with new customers that were connected to the Ikeja Distribution Company (DisCo) without meters being installed. As customers, we do not have an understanding of transparent electricity billing at the current rate. We are being over-billed unjustly and we are exercising our right to contest any electricity bill.
Between October and December 2021, the bill was hovering around N12,000 per house, and when the December bill was sent in January, it was N18,000 only, and the January bill was N23,000. This progression is alarming, the residents feel slighted and offended at this daylight robbery.
In January, after receiving the bill, residents went to the Omitoro Undertaking Office to complain and they were told that the hike was because of the electric consumption in December. Grudgingly, people accepted, but that of January cannot be justified. In the last two weeks, residents of Laaga have been battling low voltage and disruptions in the availability of electricity because of a malfunctioning transformer.
The old transformer was taken away by Ikeja Electric (DisCo) workers and the community was left in darkness. It took the effort of the residents to purchase the currently malfunctioning transformer. All the electric poles and cables within the community were bought with communal effort.
Many of the residents of Laaga are civil servants and private sector people who leave their residents in the morning and return home late in the evening.
The request for pre-paid meters is also accompanied by its own herculean tasks. Meters now cost N70,000 for one-phase, while a three-phase is about N120,000.
We, therfore, call on Ikeja Electric and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to come to our aid. We need our pre-paid meters now or Ikeja Electric should keep their low voltage while we become our Independent Power Generating Houses.
Abolade Ademola is a resident of Laaga community, Ewu-Elepe, Ikorodu, Lagos.