Electricity consumers advocate better service

Eme Offiong, Calabar

Nigerian’s Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has been urged to address the exploitation of consumers in parts of the country by the various private managing companies.

Some power consumers in Calabar, the Cross River State capital in South-South Nigeria made the call during an interaction with Voice of Nigeria on the difficulties experienced in the past 7 months due to power outage.

One of the residents, Dr. Asuquo Okon, who resides at Ikot Ekpo axis of Calabar Municipality, said “in this area, PHEDC – Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company – has totally forgotten about us. Every day, we run generators; I have a big and small one, which I use alternatively. 8 months going now, no light”.

Another consumer, who runs a mini-mart in the area, Mr. Paul Ikpi said “I put on my generator every day so that I can sell cold water and drinks to the people. I buy petrol for 130 naira per litre and now as a community, we want to contribute 8 thousand per house to buy transformer for ourselves as PHEDC says they do not give transformers”.

Yet another consumer, who resides in the outskirts of the metropolis, Mrs. Theresa Eyo said that the electricity company continues to issue exorbitant bills without providing services, noting “the situation of light has not improved; they give light when they want to collect bills and after two days, the light is gone till the next month when they need money. That is how they have been behaving and we have discovered their tricks”.

Bayelsa Experience  

In Bayelsa State, the situation is not different as most of the businesses, especially hotels have disconnected their premises from the PHEDC supply outlet.

Felicia Titus, An Assistant hotel manager in Yenagoa, the capital city, said the decision to disconnect from the national grid followed the outcome of an extended meeting of all hoteliers on the lack of power supply for business to thrive.

Titus stated: “hotel proprietors, not just our hotel, but most hotels in Yenagoa no longer rely on PHEDC for electricity. They give us very outrageous bills and no light. When there is a fault, they will not fix it. It is one excuse after another. So, we finally decided to disconnect and we run our facilities on diesel powered generators. Ever since there have been no regrets and our customers understand”.

Though the Business Manager of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company in Calabar was said to be away at a meeting in Rivers State, the location of its headquarters, the Director General of the Cross River State Electricity Agency, SEA, Sir Jake Otu-Enyia said the agency was going to meet with PHEDC to address the problems of consumers.

Consumer Forum

Otu-Enyia explained that the constant blackout in parts of the state was unacceptable to the Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, who has directed that SEA collaborate with PHEDC to tackle consumer problems to enable the government improve revenue from services provided.

 “Cross River State in the last administration invested over 10 billion naira to electrify the communities. Until now, the PHEDC is yet to connect more than 20 communities to the national grid. We provided transformers and handed the facilities over to this private companies yet our people still do not get power”, he lamented.

“We are advocating for the right of the people. This company should not sit on the right of the people. Soon, we will hold a consumer forum just light it is done in the telecoms sector and we hope to see the consumers get value for their money”, the DG remarked.

Otu-Enyia further explained that in the meantime the Cross River State Government will install additional 161 transformers in Calabar metropolis, stating there are 336 transformers installed in Calabar metropolis by the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, 52 needs to be replaced, while 109 new ones would be included to cater for the growing consumption”.

The residents, however, urged the Nigerian Minister of Power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola to seek ways to make the private companies more responsible to the people.