Residents of Valley Estate, Ikeja, woke up on Thursday to an outrageous bill of N49,339.86 by the Ikeja Electric Distribution Company (IKEDC). Some of the residents who spoke to FIJ said they all received the same bill. The unusual amount,a far cry from previous bills, made them approach Ikeji Electric for clarification.
What the residents assumed was a mistake in the billing system turned out to be true. The estate had been moved to a different electricity tariff, Band B. The new tariff meant that the estate is to receive between 16 to 20 hours of power supply. Residents of the estate said they were unaware and not notified of such action. They also had not been receiving anything close to 16 hours of electricity supply.
Helen Seyi, the Ikeja Electric marketer for the estate, told a resident that the tariff had been increased. She said that everyone who didn’t have a prepaid metre got the same bill. She explained that this was the way the new billing system was programmed, and suggested that the estate residents could write to Ikeja Electric “so we disconnect and suspend your billing till you are ready for prepaid”.
When FIJ spoke to Helen, she said the estate used to be on Band D where the scheduled hours of power supply was between eight and 12 hours. She also said that the estate chairman was aware of the change in the tariff and had spoken with the undertaking manager of Ikeja Electric.
The estate chairman, who goes by te name ‘Big Joe’, however refuted this. The Vice-Chairman also said he was not aware of any changes in the band. While the estate had once approached Ikeja Elelctric to change their electricity supply, that wasn’t done. Residents have said they were not notified of any band changes. Some argued that nothing necessitated a bill of close to N50,000 per month even if the tariff was changed.
One of the residents who spoke to FIJ confirmed that all those who did not have prepaid meters received the same bill of N49,339.86. He said that although he had a postpaid meter, the officials of Ikeja Electric never bothered to read it. Another resident said that for over four years, Ikeja Electric never came to read the meter.
When FIJ reached out to Helen to ask why Ikeja Electric was not reading postpaid meters she questioned, “how many years ago was it installed?”
She further said: “If anybody says meter is not being read, then it’s not true. The meters that are not being read are meters that have stopped to function.
Majority of those analogue meters are very old. They tampered with majority of them so they stopped to function in the normal way they should and that is why we are installing prepaid. We’ve told them to register for prepaid; they should log on to MAP for prepaid meter, because majority of them have already bypassed on their analogue meter they feel comfortable to do that because they don’t want to use prepaid.
“They don’t want to pay for what they are using. So if people are telling you they are not reading their meter it’s because they just want to cheat the company. They are giving them the prepaid meter for free so what’s stopping them from logging on to MAP and getting a meter? They have already started installation in Valley Estate.”
With inconsistent electricity supply for fewer hours, and paying high rates, the residents of Valley Estate continue to groan under Ikea Electric’s new billing system.
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