Tired of being in the darkness, residents of Arepo Community in Ogun State, monday marched to the head office of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, at Alausa, to protest over three months power outage.
The protesters, who blocked the main entrance of the office, also expressed their concern over outrageous billings being experienced by members of the community.
To drive home their grievances, they blocked the main entrance of the company, displaying placards with inscriptions such as “Enough of Ikeja Electric excuses’. Save Arepo from Darkness’, and ‘Ikeja Electric is a fraud.’
Some of the inscriptions also read: ‘Fashola must sack IE’, NERC please come to our aid’, Restore our light’, Say no billing without power supply’ and “Journalists Estate says no
Vice-President 1, Arepo Central Community Development Association (ACCDA), Nasir Salau, who led the protesters, told newsmen that they came to register their grievances against the company.
Salau said the Arepo community had been without power supply in the last three months without any message from the company.
He said the community had written several letters to the management of IE without any response.
“Despite the outage, the management keeps bringing estimated bills to us monthly. We are here to tell them that enough is enough, we have brought with us letters to register our grievance and will no longer tolerate outrageous billings and the management should fix our supply,” he said.
Speaking in similar vein, Chairman, Journalists’ Estate Development Association, Phase 1, Mr. John Ajayi, said the tyranny of IE and the high handedness of its officials in resolving identified electrical faults most of the time, have become intolerably intolerable.
He stated that despite the fact that the entire Arepo community will not have light for several months, yet, IE officials keep bringing outrageous bills monthly, thereby subjecting residents to undue extortion.
Ajayi, who identified electricity as an essential commodity in a modern society called on relevant authorities to come to the aid of his people by compelling the power supply company to do the right thing and stop giving excuses.
Also, Kuti Odukunle, who represented the Arepo Business Owners, said many businesses in Arepo community were folding up due to power outage in the area.
Odukunle said companies were spending close to N300,000 monthly to power their generators as a result of the outage.
“Some of the companies have started to downsize their staff because they cannot cope with the outage.
“Once they bring electricity, in a day or two, they will start distributing outrageous bills.
“They are using force to collect this outrageous bill by giving us light for one or two days. To resolve the issue, we want them to meter all the houses in the community so that we will be able to pay as we use.
“More businesses will collapse if the outage continues; that’s why we are here to complain so that justice can be done,” he said.
Mrs Judith Okeke, one of the protesters said two years back, power supply was regular in the area, but things had changed since the beginning of this year.
Okeke said that some private schools in the area had increased the fees of their pupils due to complain of power outage.
“When our children see electricity supply for about one to two hours, they will tell us that bills will soon come, and indeed it will come.
“The most annoying part is that the bills they bring are always outrageous.
“We are here to tell them that we are not pleased with their performance; they should quit if they cannot provide light for consumers,” she said.
Responding to the protesters, Mr Anthony Woudea, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, apologised for the poor power supply.
Woudea said that the residents, by coming to the company’s office, had shown that they were not satisfied with the services.
He said the company’s engineers had rectified the fault from the supply feeders and power supply had been restored to the community on Saturday.
The CEO appealed to the protesters on the issue of prepaid meters, explaining that they had a mode of installing the meters community after community.
He said that the installation would have reached them, but for the challenges the company was facing due to non-availability of foreign exchange.
Woudea promised that the management of the company would visit the leadership of the Arepo Community Development Association to discuss about electricity challenges in the area.