Home » Electricity Tariff Hike: Nigerians Reject Haphazard Billing By DisCos

Electricity Tariff Hike: Nigerians Reject Haphazard Billing By DisCos

by Kolade  Kadesh

Following the increase of electricity tariff for customers under Band A category of consumers, some Nigerians have expressed dissatisfaction over the haphazard implementation of the…

They said customers that are not enjoying up to 20 hours had been lumped up with those enjoying the services.

The situation has led to confusion, protests and complaints, with consumers alleging deliberate exploitation by some distribution companies (DisCos).

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had on Wednesday announced a 300 per cent hike in the electricity tariff to be paid by Band A customers.

Their tariff was moved from N68 per kilowatt hour to N225.

The vice chairman of the NERC, Musliu Oseni, who made the announcement, said the increase was to reduce the burden on the federal government following the increase in gas price and the huge collapse in the value of the naira against the United States dollar owing to what the Bola Tinubu Administration called “forex unification.”

However, many electricity consumers who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday, lamented the implementation that saw them paying for what they were not consuming.

Some residents of the Federal Capital City, Abuja and its satellite towns, who get their electricity from the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), expressed outrage as some of them in the same neighbourhood were classified on different bands.

Some of the residents, who were placed on Band A, said they might consider relocating to other areas.

Madam Aminat Adeola, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment at Plot A7, Shagari Quarters, Dei Dei, under Bwari Area Council, said the AEDC placed her on Band A while all her co-tenants were placed on B and C.

“I cannot cope with this. This is unfair to me. Why would they put only me on Band A in this compound? This is an area where we don’t enjoy regular power supply. I will first go to complain in their office in Kubwa before I decide on what to do.

“But honestly, this may force me to go and rent a house in another place,” she said.

Another resident in the area, Mrs Iyabo Ganiyu, who was placed on Band A while other people in her neighbourhood were placed on C, said she had told her husband to go and lodge a complaint at the Kubwa office of the AEDC.

Obas Emmanuel, who resides in Kubwa, said he found out that he was in Band A after purchasing a N3,000 electricity token for his meter.

“I was given 12 units instead of 40. That was when I realised I am on Band A despite not getting the Band A (20 hours) electricity,” he said.

He added that he learnt that his area was in Band A before the NERC downgraded his feeder as they were not getting the service.

Yakubu Lawal is another AEDC customer who said he purchased 40 units at N10,000, which, before now, would secure him 135 units.

He also said his feeder in Kubwa was downgraded to Band B and was surprised that he is now being asked to pay for Band A services.

He urged the NERC to look into his plight by asking for a refund for him from the AEDC.

Consumers in states lament

Eze, a web designer, who lives at Kay Farm Estate, Lagos, in an interview with Daily Trust Saturday said, “I normally enjoy regular electricity in my estate, to be honest.

“I woke up yesterday to recharge N1,000 and was surprised to get only four units. Now, I can’t even use the air conditioning system. I am currently using an electric fan.

“I have recharged twice since yesterday, and I don’t think I would be able to cope with this new rate,” he said.

Another resident of Ojodu Abiodun in Lagos who recharged on Thursday, said she got 22 units at N5,000. Another resident in the area also complained of getting 52 units for the same amount although he is oblivious of his band or category.

A resident of Obalende, under the Eko Electricity Distribution Company, said she got 20 units at N5,000 instead of 74 units with bonus included, asking, “How can this be?”

The manager, Goodluck Stores Surulere, who simply identified himself as Dubem, lamented that the increase in electricity tariff would affect his expenditure on power supply.

“I hitherto bought N30,000 worth of units, which lasted approximately two months, but with the current increase, what they would give me will not last for a month. The implication is that we might have to increase the prices of our stocks,” he said.

He said that Eko Distribution Company, which supplies power to his area, only provided electricity twice in a week.

“We hardly have light here. In a week, we may have two days of constant supply, while on other days we run on generators. On average, within those two days, the light may stay between 4 and 5 hours, but most of the time, we run on generators,” he added.

Meanwhile, officials of some of the distribution companies confirmed that there were system glitches in some areas, which wrongly classified some customers not under Band A, saying those customers had been identified and would be refunded.

An official of Eko DisCo said, “We are about doing a message and all the customers wrongly classified are going to be refunded their excess money. We are working on communication, which will go out today (yesterday).

“We have identified the customers and we have pulled them from our system and all of them would be reached out to,” the official said.

However, Kingsley Okotie, the spokesman for Ikeja Electric, in an interview with our correspondent, said it was not true that some consumers were wrongly classified under Band A as they were thoroughly reviewed before the implementation of the new cost reflective tariff.

He said, “I am not aware of such complaints about being wrongly classified under Band A feeders under IE network. The exercise was thoroughly reviewed before classifications under Band A got regulatory approvals. But I can assure our customers that we will live up to their expectations in terms of the hours of supply in line with the feeder arrangement.

“We have also put in place rapid response teams to speedily resolve complaints as they arise. We appeal to our customers to give us maximum co-operation to ensure the success of this tariff regime, a game changer that will ultimately lead to improved service delivery for all,” he added.

It’ll be difficult to pay – Kebbi residents

Some residents of Gesse Phase 1, GRA and the new settlements at the bypass in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, have complained about the recent increase in electricity tariff.

Those who spoke to our correspondent alleged that they were already paying heavily before the increase.

One of them, Alhaji Abubakar Abbas, told our correspondent that he and others in the area were made to pay hugely on a monthly basis.

“Every month I paid nothing less than N60,000, sometimes N70,000, so with the recent increase, it will be difficult to cope with my electricity bills,” he said.

The industrial area of the town, along Kalgo, and some areas at the bypass are said to be on Band A, and some business owners at the area complained that they may find it difficult to pay for the new tariff.

“Our businesses around here are no longer doing well because of the recent economic situation. I am not sure many of us would be able to pay the new tariff,” Suleiman Babagoro, who owns a mini rice mill in the area said.

Abdulazeez Abdullahi, the Head of Corporate Communications of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO), which also covers Kebbi State, said that once a customer is on Band A, whether company or individual, they would be charged based on that specification.

Customers will bear the brunt – Kano tailors

Alhaji Abdulhameed B. Adamu, a tailor in Badawa Quarters, Kano, said, “The increase in electricity tariff will force us to increase our charges. A set of plain cloth with no decoration, for which we hitherto charged between N1,500 and N2,000, will now jump to N3,500 and N4,000.

“Also, a set of cloth with decoration that we charged between N3,000 and N6,000 for sewing, depending on the type of decoration a customer chooses, will now cost between N7, 000 and N8,000,” he said.

Ice block makers at Sharada Industrial Estate also described the latest increase as “unprecedented, shocking and devastating.

Abubakar Abdullahi Umar said most of them became confused when they heard of the increase.

He said he used to pay about N500,000 monthly to settle electricity bills before the latest development, and wondered how they would cope.

“We are just discussing this increase because we are all confused. Everybody is lamenting. How do you explain over 300 per cent increase to a customer? Certainly, we will transfer the cost to those patronising our products,” Umar said.

When contacted to speak on the disparities witnessed in some areas, the Head of Kano Distribution Company’s Corporate Communication, Sani Bala, could not be reached. But an official who does not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak, explained that it is basically technical when customers on other bands were charged using Band A threshold, adding that this can easily be rectified.

Only 1.5 million customers will be affected

Speaking on the widespread complaints by Nigerians, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja Friday, said the tariff hike would ultimately benefit the poor.

He said that from the policy formulation perspective, the recent increase would affect just 15 per cent of electricity consumers in Nigeria.

He said that based on the latest statistics, there are a little above 12 million customers in the sector but this would only affect about 1.5 million customers.

He said the remaining 10.5 million customers would continue to enjoy government’s subsidy at 70 per cent.

The minister added that the federal government was investing heavily on infrastructure, which will ultimately lead to better services, assuring that even manufacturers would have a fair deal compared to what they currently spend on diesel to power their machinery.

“A journey of thousand miles starts today,” the minister said.

NERC fines AEDC N200m 

The NERC vice chairman, Oseni, said yesterday that the AEDC was fined N200 million because it implemented the new tariff for all customers.

He said this was a breach of trust, and that the fine against the company was to sound a warning that erring DisCos would be punished.

Speaking at a briefing in Abuja on Friday, he said the N200 million would go to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

“What led to that is that some customers have complained that they are not enjoying 20 hours of supply, they went to vend and they were charged the new rate.

 “The Abuja scenario that led to this is unpardonable. The AEDC was saying it was an error. Why didn’t they make an error that would reduce the tariff for all customers? he queried.

He said that in the second scenario, after the review, what the DisCos did was to try and protect their revenue and have three options.

“One was to shut down the platform until they effect the rate change. The second option was to limit the amount the customers can vend, and the third one was to change the tariff for Band A before they will start to clean the system to know who are actually on Band A,” he said.

When contacted for a reaction on the fine, AEDC’s Head of Branding and Corporate Communications, Mimi Angyu, did not respond to calls or messages sent to her line.

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