ANGER is building up across the southeast geo-political zone after the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) announced plans to discard pre-paid metering and re-introduce estimated billing for all of its customers.
In 2005, Nigeria’s power distribution company the National Electric Power Company (Nepa) was converted into the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and split into regional operators. In 2013, the government divested its interest in PHCN, allowing the regional distribution companies known as Discos to operate as private commercial operators.
These companies bill their customers and of late, they have introduced pre-paid metres, which have been very popular as they address the vexed issue of over-charging. Across southeast Nigeria, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company is the largest operator and up until now, it has been using pre-paid metres, which addressed the issue of debts, billing and over-charging.
However, the company has announced that it plans to scrap pre-paid metres and introduce estimated billing, creating tension across the region. On Monday this week, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Omagba in Onitsha condemning the act, vowing to resist the development with the last drop of their blood
They called on the federal government to intervene and save them from the stranglehold of a certain moneybag who they accused of ripping off the people of the area through the EEDC.
Journalists of Igbo extraction under the aegis of their association Izunwanne, have also warned the EEDC to desist from reintroducing estimated billing by decommissioning active pre-paid meters to customers.
One of the protesters said: “I went to their office to see what was going on and discovered that they had created a desk with a worker who is attending to customers, trying to convince them to go into direct connection. They didn’t allow me to recharge my prepaid meter.
“The gullible and impatient ones are falling to their antics but I engaged the worker to find out when, if I fill the form for direct connection, the new meter will be supplied to me. The man said he had no idea. True to our fears, it could take months or years, so that is why we decided to protest.”