Tension in Zaria over electricity bills
Thousands of Zaria residents at the weekend, protested against what they called `fraud, intimidation and over billing of consumers by Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC) and threatened legal action against the company.
Addressing newsmen in Zaria, Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa, said the protest and court action became necessary following issuance of notice letter recently issued to the consumers by the company within Zaria metropolis.
According to Mustafa, “We have received a notice from the company titled: Demand Letter and Notice of withdrawal of electricity supply to your Premises which is intimidating, and an attempt to defraud the consumers’’.
Mustafa who quoted the notice letter said the notice was part of the continuous exploitation and intimidating attitude of the company to the teaming consumers in Zaria.
He read the said notice as; “Notice is hereby given that in accordance with provisions of regulations 5(1), (a)-(f) of National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Order on connection and disconnection procedure of 2007, the supply of electricity to your premises at A/C/-shall be withdrawn within 10 days from date of services of this notice. This is following your failure and refusal to pay the outstaying arrears’’.
The letter added that, “Furthermore, take notice that failure to pay the outstanding amount as quoted above within this period of this notice shall not only result in the withdrawal of electricity services but as well as entitled the company to commence recovery proceedings against you in a Court of Competent jurisdiction without further notice or warning to you’’.
The Company notice was signed by an employee on behalf of the management and copied to Police DPOs, Community leaders and local government chairpersons.
Mustafa argued that, there has never been a reliable measurement of electricity consumption by the customers as the company only charged by over estimation sometimes writes with biro the amount they want a consumer to pay.
“No meter to measure our consumption, we have requested severelly for a Pre –paid Meter yet we could not get, but the company is asking us pay millions of Naira outstanding debt. This is a clear case of fraud, and cheating which cannot be found anywhere in the world except in Nigeria’’.
According to him, Zaria’s experience is worst supply of electricity more than other cities in Nigeria which makes other business impossible to yield any positive profits.
“In fact some places in Zaria spend two to three days without electricity, yet the company brings a bill to you, which means we are paying for a product not consumed? It is a fraud indeed.’’ He said.
The spokesman however said, the residents have concluded arrangement with team of lawyers to sue the company for defrauding and intimidation, as well resolved not make any further payment of any outstanding debt until the company produces meters for them.
He expressed disappointment with the President Muhammadu Buhari for his inability to reverse the privatization of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by Jonnathan administrations before clinching power in 2015.
He therefore appealed to Nigerians to continue protesting against the attitude of electricity Distribution Companies who make life difficult for Nigerian citizens.
Reacting, the Company’s Commercial Manager in Zaria, Alhaji Kabiru Abdulsalam, said the company was not out to punish any customer with the notice, but to spur them to pay their outstanding bills.
According to him, “let me tell those that are complaining about the notice letter we issued that the notice was meant to ginger customers to pay all outstanding bill, not to punish anybody, despite the NERC law on connection and disconnection of electricity Supply’’.
He said recent investigations by the company in Zaria revealed that only 40 per cent of consumers are trying to pay their outstanding debt while remaining 60 are still reluctant. Therefore, we must find ways to recover our money. Most of the debts are owed by customers on estimation bill which we inherited from former PHCN.’’
On meter, the Commercial Manager said, the federal government had recently made a position on it by promising to provide the meters to the customers soon.
“It is also important to note that, we are in the business of distributing electricity receive from suppliers, so we cannot speak on why we are not getting electricity in Zaria. I think it is a general problem’’. He explained.