It was all round chaos at the headquarters of Ikeja Electricity as residents of Onilekere, Onipetesi, Valley Estate, Santos Estate Phase I & II, Lagos State, stormed the office on Thursday to protest against poor power supply, outrageous estimated billings, as well as the poor state of a substation transformer that feeds about 20 transformers in the four communities.
The protesters lamented that on the average, they had 125 hours electricity monthly, saying the problem had taken its toll on the people and commercial activities in the neighbourhoods.
They also displayed placards, some of which read, ‘11 months of darkness is inhuman and wickedness,’ ‘We can’t continue to pay for darkness,’ ‘Replacing 15MVA (substation) transformer with 7.5MVA is unacceptable,’ and ‘Ikeja Electric has gradually killed our businesses,’ among others.
The Secretary, Valley Estate Residents Association, Amaehi Ogwuse, told PUNCH Metro that the communities had been enduring erratic electricity since December 2016 when the substation transformer packed up.
He said, “The 15MVA substation at Mangoro got bad in December and for about two months, there was a total outage. The IE officials told us that the substation transformer packed up as a result of overloading. We started mounting pressure on them and eventually they connected us to the Shasha substation.
“The load shedding has been ‘one day on; two days off’ and we hardly have four hours electricity on our ‘on day.’ We had complained to the company, but we were told lies. Yet, they give us estimated bills. A three-bedroomed flat gets a bill of N13,000 in a month. It is outrageous.
“They brought the 7.5MVA last month when they got wind of this protest and they had yet to energise it. But the transformer cannot serve the four communities. The 15MVA spoilt as result of overloading. We need both the 15MVA and 7.5MVA to solve this problem.”
A representative of Onipetesi residents, Olusola Gabriel, said he spent a major part of his income in paying the “crazy electricity bills” and fuelling his generator.
He said, “I live in a two-bedroomed flat. I spend N15,000 on fuel every month. The company also brings a bill of N8,000 monthly. An average income earner in Nigeria gets between N50,000 and N70,000. So, if you spend about N25,000 on electricity every month, isn’t that crazy?”
A fashion designer and youth leader of Valley Estate, Olayinka Balogun, said the outage had rendered him and his colleagues idle, adding that it was difficult for them to make ends meet.
He said, “I have not been working because of the outage and same applies to other artisans in the communities.”
Also, one Precious Innocent said, “Since I moved to Valley Estate about a year ago, the power supply has been very poor. The company brought an accumulated bill of N50,000 for our house recently. We don’t have any meter, but we get bills that have meter number.”
The company management and representatives of the communities had a closed-door meeting, which lasted for about two hours.
After the meeting, one of the representatives, Ita Henshaw, told our correspondent that they had made their demands known to the company.
“The operational manager, Mr. Daramola, said they had been working on the 7.5 MVA at the substation in Mangoro. He promised that in a week’s time it would be energised.
“We have told the management that we want to have 24-hour power supply; we want pre-paid meters given to all consumers in the communities; we don’t want load shedding system of ‘two days off’ and miserable ‘one day on’ anymore.
“We also want total cancellation of all debts arising from the illegitimate billings; we don’t want estimated billing system henceforth and no disconnection of power until these demands are met,” he added.
The Ikeja Electric spokesman, Mr. Felix Ofulue, affirmed that the company would energise the transformer in a week’s time, adding that the demands would be looked into accordingly.
He said, “They had power transformation issue and they are being fed from other sources. There are some processes that need to be taken to energise the new transformer and we have told them that it would be done in one week.
“The other issues are generic. Some of the demands may not be realistic considering the current reality. The ones that we can do, we will and provide alternatives where necessary.”
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )