The Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (DISCO) recently began a new approach to revving up its finances through flat disconnection of customers from the transformer, INDEPENDENT learnt.
The electricity company is alleged to have perpetrated this practise mostly in the Ikorodu area of Lagos where their customers have been suffering in silence.
The excuse given by the electricity company is often that some of their customers in the area have refused to pay their bills.
Residents of some parts of Itamaga in Ikorodu were, some weeks back, thrown into a month-long period of darkness when the transformer in their area was disconnected by Ikeja Electricity officials.
Soon after, residents of Agbele community, Ikorodu, also had their transformer disconnected for more than a week until the residents reached a settlement with the electricity company.
Similarly, about a week ago, residents of Itamope had to go and settle the company officials to prevent their transformer from being disconnected.
At present, residents of Ojugbo community have been thrown into darkness for about two weeks in this raw deal which the Ikeja DISCO has devised for its customers.
A resident in the area told INDEPENDENT that when the landlords went to the company’s office in Ijede, they were told that until customers without prepaid meters paid a mandatory N10,000 each, the area would remain in darkness.
“It’s a new method of fleecing customers,” an elderly resident in the area said.
When contacted, Felix Ofolue, Head of Corporate Communications of Ikeja Electric Distribution Company, said the residents were disconnected because they failed to pay their bills, but he did not explain why those who had paid their bills were also disconnected.
“Customers who do not pay their bills get disconnected; that is the trend everywhere,” he said, and added, “If the transformer is faulty and the community is owing, it may be difficult to attend to their request, because you have to give priority to those who are paying.”
Pressed further to comment on why the officials embarked on the unwholesome practise of disconnecting the transformer, Ofolue said, “There are several reasons, but the most common is if the community prevents Ikeja Electricity staff from coming into their community to disconnect individuals, or if they attack Ikeja Electricity staff who have come to disconnect them.”
Concerning the money demanded by the company, the company Spokesman said it may have been part of a payment plan.
He said: “They must have been owing a huge sum and, in that case, they must have engaged the business unit for a payment plan, that is why they were asked to pay a certain amount of the debt.”
But an elderly landlord in the community told INDEPENDENT that there was no payment plan at all.
He said the company demanded the money from all customers who were not using prepaid meters, whether they had been paying or not.
According to him, “We discovered that if we pay the money it would not reflect on our bills, because they are not going to record it.
“It was a lump sum demanded from the community just to reconnect them.”
Many of those affected complained that they had been paying their bills regularly and couldn’t understand while they had to suffer the same punishment as those who had not been paying their bills.
Residents of Ojugbo who were recently disconnected insisted the community had never obstructed officials of the company in the performance of their duty and wondered why it came up with its strange ‘money collection’ method.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER