Customers of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company in Ikorodu, Lagos, have condemned the disconnection of two communities from the electricity grid due to non-payment of bills by a few customers.
The aggrieved customers told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday that the action of the company amounted to jungle justice.
They urged IKEDC to as a matter of urgency provide pre-paid metres for all electricity consumers to prevent a situation where the entire community would be disconnected because of a few defaulting customers.
NAN reports that Ereko and Ajegunle communities at Itaoluwo area of Ikorodu were disconnected from electricity supply grid on February 29, for non-payment of bills by some customers.
An official of one of the Community Development Associations, Alhaji Jimoh Yusuf, told NAN that the IKEDC had no regards for the welfare of its committed customers by punishing them for the misdeeds of others.
He said: “Depriving ones customer from enjoying the service paid for will only aggravate anger, frustration and disappointment and will reduce the status of such a company before the public.”
Deborah Akinola, another CDA official, said the strategy adopted by the IKEDC showed that it lacked an effective enforcement regime for collection of bills.
She said that the present blackout in the communities, which was induced by the company, was contrary to modern corporate governance ethics.
Akinola said: “The company is simply punishing the innocent for its own inefficiency and disorganised revenue collection structure, and this is not fair.’’
A resident of one of the affected communities, Femi Tofunmi, said IKDEC ought to consider that it did not provide any of the facilities needed to transmit electricity to the communities.
Tofunmi said: “Everything from poles, electricity wires and transformers we provided through the efforts of the CDA members.
“The communities practically provided all the facilities for transmitting electricity into their houses and so should enjoy some measure of consideration when punishment is to be meted out to erring customers.
“We all agree that defaulters in the area should be punished but not through a process that punishes both the good and bad.”
An official of the IKDEC office at Odogunyan, which covers the affected communities, told NAN that the company was compelled to take such measure from experience.
The IKEDC official, who spoke under condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak for the company, said the debt owed the company was too much and was increasing monthly.
The official said: “Ereko Community alone has a total bill amounting to about N1.7 million for January and as at the last week of February, only less than N220, 000 has been paid.
“I am not mentioning the backlog of debts that runs into millions of naira and we all know that the company has to pay for the energy it buys and supplies to these areas.
“From experience, when we go on enforcement to disconnect debtors, as soon as we are gone they reconnect to the grid.
“We regret to adopt this strategy but our customers should understand that the vastness of these areas makes monitoring somewhat cumbersome.’’