Our DISCOs, strange dance-steps & citizens FURRY

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Last week we examined a flurry of ‘signs and wonders’ from our electricity distribution companies alias DISCOs. Those of us of the old order (who are nearer to where they are going than where they are coming from), know very well that disco was all about dancing. These electricity DISCOs are also dancing, except that their dance steps are weird and out of the tune with the music and with the expectations of their patrons, the customers.

These strange dance steps are in the form of audacious thievery through estimated billing, excuse-based customer relations management strategy, general service failure and inability to profitably exploit the huge market, which was why they jumped into the disco bandwagon in the first instance. They also have this wicked tendency to blackmail customers with power disconnection and this is more worrisome because the disconnection would occur whenever there is light and this may be the only day there has been light in a whole week. At times, they show naked power as when in October 2015, officials of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company invaded Oke-Abiye in Agbado Oke-Odo area of Lagos State with an armed contingent of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, threatening them to pay their bills immediately or face immediate disconnection!

 

The most frustrating to customers are the estimated billing and the disconnection. Incidentally, Engr O Azih, who is VERY knowledgeable in these matters says that estimated billing is neither new nor strange. He however avers that there is a scientific and mathematical method of doing so. I do not understand the jaw-breaking terms he used (he was actually speaking in tongues) and as such, I do not want to spoil the day for my readers by repeating them here. But in Nigeria, the DISCOs … Read More...

Discos, signs & wonders, and citizens furry

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We are all made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and as such, we all have some God-like elements in us. Thus while God is omnipresent, (present everywhere) I have taken a part of Him by being tri-present (present in three places). Check the National Bureau of Statistics residential database and you will surely see me as resident in Lagos (Okota), Ijebu-Ode (Molipa) and Igboukwu (Ezeamaluchi Avenue).  And to prove this my tri-presence beyond all reasonable doubts, I start my intervention today with three stories from these three domains.

1) Ihuowele, Igboukwu bulk-metering and disconnection as an instrument of blackmail.

In January 2019, a meter serving the Ihuowele village in Igboukwu, a rural community in which 90% of the houses are owned by people in the local diaspora (absentee landlords), received a bill of N10m+!  Even Dangote cement Company would be shocked by this kind of bill! The people protested and the EEDC officials, specifically the Network Manager (at Ekwulobia) and Feeder Manager for Nneni Axis (named Chukwu-Chukwu) admitted that the meter was faulty and promised to effect the necessary repairs. However, since then, they have been playing Ping-Pong with the matter. It is either the officers were busy or their car spoilt on the road or it was too late to come to the town or it rained or any other reason that suited them. Just before Easter, they presented another humongous bill (based on a faulty meter)  together with a demand notice and disconnected the light to the whole community and we had no light throughout the Easter season. At the background to this was the demand for a ‘mobilization fee’ of N20,000, which the committee member could not afford, as he was a mere messenger for the community. It was … Read More...

DisCos start meter distribution May 1, but payment doesn’t confer ownership

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Electricity distribution companies (DisCos) will begin the process of distributing meters to customers today under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation enacted by the regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), but those who pay for meters will not own them and may not move them.
Customers have raised concerns on whether they will be allowed to pay in instalment for the meters and if they would be able to take them along with them when they move away from their residence.
NERC has said that customers would have the option of paying for the meters in instalment but some third-party investors who have been outsourced the task of providing the meters by the DisCos have said a prompt payment for the meters will help them meet their obligation to their bankers.
“Customers can either pay outright for a meter, or they can pay for the meter over a 10-year period via a monthly metering services charge for the meter and the associated metering services that would be provided by the MAP to the customers,” said Odion Omonfoman, managing director, New Hamshire Capital Ltd, whose firm is one of the MAPs for Ikeja DisCo.
“For customers who pay outright for a meter, the DisCo owns the meter. For customers who pay in instalment for the meter, the MAP owns the meter until the customer fully pays for the meter. In this instance, the ownership of the meter reverts to the DisCo,” Omonfoman said.
Yet, the process is not automatic.

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