Staff of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, the regulatory agency overseeing EEDC, Mr Emeka Odoemelam, has openly confessed to the Abia State House of Assembly that the power company has been exploiting the people.
The NERC representative was present when the Assembly summoned EEDC over issues affecting the distribution company and power consumers in the state.
Odoemelam posited that a situation where the Honourable Members in carrying out their social responsibilities donate transformers and are still charged extra money by EEDC Is unacceptable.
“It is our duty to ensure that customers are not exploited.”
He stunned the Assembly by announcing that there is a provision in the commission’s regulations which states that once you are contributing any asset to any Distribution Company, such donation should not be entirely free.
He advised the House to always engage the distribution company anytime they want to donate transformers because there should be some compensation for a donor which is a standard practice.
”As you donate, you should demand because it is your right to be compensated on the asset you are donating and that is what the Law says”, Mr Odoemelam exposed.
Reacting to a question from Hon Emeka Okoroafor, Member representing Isuikwuato State Constituency, if the EEDC was following the capping order as reached in an agreement sometime past, Odoemelam answered in the negative.
He said that service providers have not complied to the directive of the 2020 capping order which states that certain amount of kilowatts should be given to customers.
“They have not really complied to the directives but due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the agency was limited to traveling but that in the last few months, the commission has been going round the country trying to get information from customers to determine whether the service providers were fully in compliance with that order.”
He further said the result of that tour by the commission has not been so pleasant because they have seen some level of deviations from the regulations but that the commission doesn’t just take action on the service providers without having sufficient watertight information on their infractions, hence, the reason it seems they are not fast in wielding the big stick.
Mr Odoemelam stated that last week, they were in Umuahia to take customers complaints and to look at estimates. “Once the commission is done with field works, it will get the level of non-compliance, and necessary sanctions placed on the Distribution Company.”
He added that he is from Umuahia and “I can tell the house for free that even in my house the approved capping is not followed, but the commission, like I said earlier, we will follow up this logically and where they are found wanting, they will be sanctioned accordingly”, he said.
Mr Odoemelam said the Commission was also in Enugu three weeks ago and saw EEDC taking delivery of 18,000 meters from the 40,000 allocated to the region
Abia state house of assembly under the leadership of the speaker Rt.Hon. Engr Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji condemned the mode of operations of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) in Abia State.
The house expressed displeasure with the way and manner the electricity distribution company has been conducting business in the state.
Speaker Rt.Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji stated that EEDC officials were summoned as a result of the incessant complaints of citizens concerning the activities of the electricity company in Abia.
The Speaker further said Abians are bitterly complaining about lack of prepaid metres and the ever increasing sums from estimated bills charged Abians which he described as totally unacceptable to the 7th Abia State House of Assembly.
During the session the The Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu, also queried why a large part of his immediate constituency of Ohafia South has been in total blackout for months now.
Also collaborating what the deputy speaker said ,Hon Mandela Egwuronu Obasi, Member representing Ohafia North State Constituency on his part, asked why the EEDC is indirectly extorting Abians through high billings, demanding to know if the metres claimed to be primed for distribution in the State are for commercial or residential use because the company seems to channel their claws on commercial entities for extortion.
On his own part, Hon Ginger Onwusibe, Member representing Isiala Ngwa North State Constituency asked the EEDC official the plan of the company in metering rural areas which he said should be captured in the ongoing metering program.
He also wondered why someone would be expected to pay a huge amount of money for energizing a transformer even after donating it to a community but which eventually becomes the property of EEDC.
Hear him: “Why can’t your company appreciate such huge kind gestures, applaud the donor, energize the transformer then take whole possession of it”.
While responding to the plethora of issues raised by the Abia legislature, Mr Ozoezeh Onyebuchi, the Network Manager of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company stated that the company has installed over a thousand distribution substations at the cost of over N350,000,000. 00 (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira Only) in the last one year alone, and that installation of the substations was for the company to checkmate estimated billings.
He also said EEDC has installed 16,000 meters at the cost of over N800,000,000.00 (Eight Hundred Million Naira Only) in Abia State.
He added that the company has procured 3,000 meters that are currently being programmed and that their target is to meter all the customers in the State in due course.
Mr Ozoezeh was interrupted by the Abia speaker, who obviously not impressed by the EEDC team leader’s presentation.”You just told us what was installed, even with your explanations, that is still not clear. Between the last time we met and today, what has happened? What is new? Are there Metres for continued installation to the people? And how many customers do you have in Abia State? the Speaker asked.
Responding to this Mr Ozoezeh Onyebuchi said the company has 150,000 active customers in the State and that the available 3,000 metres are to be installed as part of progress in metreing the people.Also providing answers to the questions posed by the deputy speaker’s question, the EEDC representative adduced that Ohafia as the third largest commercial city in the State cannot be overlooked.
He said the issue of Ohafia was not solely the fault of EEDC, rather, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) should be held responsible for that. He further said the greatest challenge his company is experiencing in Ohafia Local Government Area was attacks from hoodlums because the company outfield engineers have been attacked and held hostage countless times while on duty in the area.
While also reacting to the questions raised by Hon Mandela Egwuronu Obasi, Member representing Ohafia North State Constituency on his part, asked why the EEDC is indirectly extorting Abians through high billings, demanding to know if the metres claimed to be primed for distribution in the State are for commercial or residential use because the company seems to channel their claws on commercial entities for extortion.Mr Ozoezeh said the meters are standardized and that the commercial metres are billed from source. He said the procured metres are for homes.
As a follow up to the questions raised by Hon.Mandela, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu, Member representing Isiala Ngwa South State Constituency, asked the Network Manager if the available 3,000 Metres were from the Federal Government or from EEDC.
Ozoezeh said the metres are from the Federal Government but that it is a kind of loan which the company will pay for later. He also said that metreing has been going on in Umuahia but that it is at minimal. He informed that the company planned to storm the State with the metres later this month.
Not happy with the EEDC official’s explanations and figures bandied as number of customers they have in the State, the Speaker said, “You are saying you have 53,000 customers in Umuahia, far more than you have in Aba; you can’t tell us you have less customers in Aba than Umuahia. I think you got your records wrong”, .
Mr Ozoezeh said the company has installed over a thousand distribution substation metres in the State, and that “as a matter of fact, in Umuahia District, we have metred over 80% of all all our transformers and we are also working with some rural areas even though most of them complain of high bills but we are working with them to bring down their consumption rate and energy management.
“About donations, the EEDC representative appreciated the Honourable Members especially the Speaker ,saying they have donated and installed countless number of transformers in their constituencies and beyond. He further added that these donations depend on the need for the transformers”.