By Seun Ibiyemi
In a bid to forestall the problem of energy theft and customers allegation of high billing, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) has introduced issuance of separate bills for shops in front of house within the same premises after the completion of a multimillion-naira project called Asset and Customer Enumeration Project (ACE) across its franchise area by IBEDC.
Customers of IBEDC at Ijoko-Sango Ota in Ado-Otta local government Areas of Ogun State had raised alarm over the issue of multiple billings by the disco company in the past three months in the area.
Findings by Nigerian NewsDirect correspondent also revealed that customers in Gasline area of Ijoko, receives separate bills depending on the number of houses and shops in a given compound
Regional Communication Officer, IBEDC Ayodeji Bada explained in reaction to the allegation of extortion by electricity customers in Ijoko area of Sango/Ijoko LCDA in Ogun State.
He said the exercise is the technical audit of IBEDC assets and the data capturing of existing and prospective customers. “It also involves identification of developed, underdeveloped and vacant properties within our franchise. It is aimed at reducing estimated billing, improve accuracy of billing, improve quality of power supply and quicker fault response time, identification of obsolete and damaged equipment such as meters, transformers, poles etc. for upgrade and replacement and proper planning for potential customer expansion among other things,”, he said.
Bada denied engagement in any form of customer extortion by IBEDC. HE explained that the customers are misinterpreting the policy and program of the company. “Every household must have a bill, if the house is having a shop attached to it or constructed in front of it, it must also have a separate bill so that they can be metered separately.
All premises/locations to be metered are to have record with the company thereby resulting in the separate billing of all locations requesting for a meter, “ he said.
The company is using average cluster billing methodology approved by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). IBEDC has diligently carried out customers classification/Categorization in all our franchise area to avoid any customer being billed outrageously.
The monthly billing of customers is based on customers classification, tariff class and availability of supply to the area. Invariably the billing of each month cannot be the same as the monthly consumption are not the same.
IBEDC is a customer friendly company with the interest of its customers at heart. The observed development is aimed at ensuring accurate data base for the company’s metering scheme so as not to leave any customer out.
However, Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, an electricity consumer, Mr. Hassan said, “ For the past two months, the IBEDC officials have been bringing two bills to my house and you can see I have only three bedroom flat and a shop, which my wife uses to sell little things.
“I always pay N8,000 to N9,000 per month depending on the bill which I’m being given. Now, they have added another bill making it two. That means after paying that of my flat, I have to pay for the shop. What is she selling? How much gain does she make that I have to pay over N2,000?
“The shop only has two bulbs and they brought N2,350 for her to pay. This is total extortion,” he lamented.
Another customer, Mr Dairo who claimed to be part of the victims of multiple bill said, “ This is total extortion. It’s never like this before and when I asked the official bringing bills to my house, he told me it’s a new policy.
“What kind of policy is this that is meant to extort customers? And most times when I complain to the official, he is always telling me to go and make complaint to his boss.
“Imagine! The shop is there, nobody is using it and they are bringing two bills to my house. Is that not a way of extorting customers?
“In the month of April, they brought bill for the shop for the month of March which I decided not to pay, because nobody uses the shop. Now, they brought another one for the month of April this month. How long will I continue with this?
“I am paying over N9,000 for my three bedroom flat. Now, they are bringing another bill of almost N2,000 for the shop for me to pay. I have disconnected the house and I will write letter to them. I no longer need light in the shop again.
Also, Mrs. Akinlabi told Nigerian NewsDirect, “We don’t even understand how they read unit of electricity I consume per month. Because in the month of April, they brought N2,870 for the month of March and now they brought N8,734 and my house hasn’t changed in size. So, I don’t know how they do their calculations.”
Akinlabi added that IBEDC is just extorting its customers. “This issue of two bills, I don’t understand. What am I consuming that they are bringing two bills to my house while some houses have no bill and the IBEDC will collect money from them without disconnecting them and my house with bill, the official will be threatening me?,” She queried.