S’East Journalists Tackle EEDC over Prepaid Meters Withdrawal

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Journalists of South East Extraction under the aegis of Izunwanne have warned the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to desist from surreptitiously reintroducing estimated billing by decommissioning active prepaid meters to customers.

The newsmen in a statement insisted that the explanation by the distribution company that only 40,000 customers were affected by their scheme was not permissible as withdrawal of functional meters ought to be by replacing with the preferred option by the company instead of putting affected customers on estimated billing which made them pay for power not used.

A statement by its Convener, Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu and Secretary, Ngwoke Ngwoke said the scheme by the power company was furthering the poor services of the company and their exploitation of people of the region which was unacceptable to them.

“IZUNWANNE is a forum of journalists of Southeast of Nigeria origin, both practising and retired. It is a non-partisan, non-religious and non-profit making organisation. Its members, spread across different parts of the country and the world (in various fields of endeavour, such as Law practice, politics, public relations/advertising, broadcasting, book/newspaper publishing to online blogging, business, etc) are determined and committed to working and helping the Southeast zone to grow and develop.

“We aware, for instance, of the poor power supply and distribution situation in the Southeast geopolitical zone and, cognissant of our role as society’s watchdog, hereby declare as follows:

“That we have observed with dismay, the untold hardship electricity consumers in the Southeast zone are subjected to.

“That such hardship has been further aggravated by the sudden decision of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to discontinue the use of standalone prepaid meters in the zone and by this decision, EEDC is forcing millions of public electricity consumers using prepaid meters to fill prescribed forms by which they purportedly empower EEDC marketers to return to the wicked and outrageous estimated billing method of collecting revenue, which had long been rejected because of its inherent arbitrariness and exploitation of the consumers.

“That even though the estimated billing method, according to EEDC, will only be in place until the MAP meters are available, we find it difficult to believe the EEDC on this because we are very much aware that thousands of customers who applied for the MAP meters over two years now are yet to be supplied with any unit of the device and besides the tactical delay, which we know the supply of the new meters will suffer, we are uncomfortable with the fact that when it is finally available, if at all it will be, public electricity consumers in the Southeast zone will be made to pay a whopping N39,000 for a unit of the so-called new smart meters.

“We have it on good authority that there is nothing wrong with the standalone meters, except that EEDC decided to discontinue its use in order to make more profits. Allegations that some consumers bypass the Standalone meters and steal electricity, hence the covert reason to phase out the Standalone meters, do not hold any water but only underscores the incompetence and inefficiency of EEDC in handling electricity distribution because a competent and efficient organisation given such responsibility as EEDC ought to have the technical knowhow and capability to checkmate such alleged infractions in their system.

“The meter crisis by EEDC is compounding an already debilitating perennial energy crisis which EEDC has inflicted on consumers in the Southeast zone due its inefficiency and incompetence,” They said.

They therefore demanded the reversal of the planned withdrawal of standalone meters as well as give enough notice should the need actually arise for any change in distribution facilities while replacement of meters should be seamlessly done without cost to consumers as was done by PHCN when analog meters were replaced.

They expressed disappointment that a “DISCO, supposedly owned and operated by a southeasterner, rather than work towards improving the power supply/distribution situation in the Southeast zone, is deliberately exploiting and impoverishing the people the more, ostensibly in a selfish bid to maximize profits.

“We note with dismay that no effort seems to have been made so far to improve the facilities for electricity distribution in the zone since the privatization of public electricity distribution and supply. The Southeast geo-political zone is easily the only zone with such poor, nonchalant investor attitude to their obligations to electricity consumers anywhere in Nigeria, and that is unacceptable to us in IZUNWANNE.”