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Two Discos promoting estimated billing than prepaid meters identified

Two Nigerian electricity Distribution Companies (Discos), the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (Eko Disco) in Lagos and the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), have been identified by their numerous customers as deliberately frustrating the intention of the government in metering consumers.

Fact check showed that Eko Disco has been making the process of assessing prepaid meters more cumbersome and out-rightly discouraging as several meter applicants, who had applied for the past number of years are yet to be metered.

Only recently, the Disco came up with the policy of collecting their estimated billing customers’ phone numbers.

When our correspondent asked some of the Eko Discos field marketing executives, their uniform answers were that the numbers are collected so as to begin to send their estimated bills direct to their phones.

Some of the customers decried that a Disco that is collecting peoples’ phone numbers to be sending monthly estimated bills is not ready to give prepaid meters.

Majority of the customers, who called for probe of Eko Disco on why it is more interested in sending estimated bills via sms than giving out meters to customers, said they will not honour any bill sent to them that is not on paper for record purposes.

Efforts to get the views of Eko Disco’s PRO as at press time failed.

In the case of EEDC, weekend, Journalists of South East Extraction under the aegis of Izunwanne have warned the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to desist from surreptitiously reintroducing estimated billing by decommissioning active prepaid meters to customers.

The newsmen in a statement insisted that the explanation by the distribution company that only 40,000 customers were affected by their scheme was not permissible as withdrawal of functional meters ought to be by replacing with the preferred option by the company instead of putting affected customers on estimated billing which made them pay for power not used.

A statement by its Convener, Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu and Secretary, Ngwoke Ngwoke said the scheme by the power company was furthering the poor services of the company and their exploitation of people of the region which was unacceptable to them.

“IZUNWANNE is a forum of journalists of Southeast of Nigeria origin, both practising and retired. It is a non-partisan, non-religious and non-profit making organisation. Its members, spread across different parts of the country and the world (in various fields of endeavour, such as Law practice, politics, public relations/advertising, broadcasting, book/newspaper publishing to online blogging, business, etc) are determined and committed to working and helping the Southeast zone to grow and develop.

“We aware, for instance, of the poor power supply and distribution situation in the Southeast geopolitical zone and, cognisant of our role as society’s watchdog, hereby declare as follows:

“That we have observed with dismay, the untold hardship electricity consumers in the Southeast zone are subjected to.

“That such hardship has been further aggravated by the sudden decision of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to discontinue the use of standalone prepaid meters in the zone and by this decision, EEDC is forcing millions of public electricity consumers using prepaid meters to fill prescribed forms by which they purportedly empower EEDC marketers to return to the wicked and outrageous estimated billing method of collecting revenue, which had long been rejected because of its inherent arbitrariness and exploitation of the consumers.

“That even though the estimated billing method, according to EEDC, will only be in place until the MAP meters are available, we find it difficult to believe the EEDC on this because we are very much aware that thousands of customers who applied for the MAP meters over two years now are yet to be supplied with any unit of the device and besides the tactical delay, which we know the supply of the new meters will suffer, we are uncomfortable with the fact that when it is finally available, if at all it will be, public electricity consumers in the Southeast zone will be made to pay a whopping N39,000 for a unit of the so-called new smart meters.

“We have it on good authority that there is nothing wrong with the standalone meters, except that EEDC decided to discontinue its use in order to make more profits. Allegations that some consumers bypass the Standalone meters and steal electricity, hence the covert reason to phase out the Standalone meters, do not hold any water but only underscores the incompetence and inefficiency of EEDC in handling electricity distribution because a competent and efficient organisation given such responsibility as EEDC ought to have the technical knowhow and capability to checkmate such alleged infractions in their system.

“The meter crisis by EEDC is compounding an already debilitating perennial energy crisis which EEDC has inflicted on consumers in the Southeast zone due its inefficiency and incompetence,” They said.

They therefore demanded the reversal of the planned withdrawal of standalone meters as well as give enough notice should the need actually arise for any change in distribution facilities while replacement of meters should be seamlessly done without cost to consumers as was done by PHCN when analogue meters were replaced.