“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
The above quotes from George Orwell 1984 Animal farm seems to have been recreated by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, in Kogi. The electricity company has created a class – status in their distributions of electricity to consumers in the state.
AEDC presently operates Tariff plans of A, B, C, D and E. A enjoys light supply between 20 – 24hrs daily, B for 16 – 19hrs, C for 12 hrs daily, D for 8 hrs and E for 4-7 hrs daily.
Each tariff classes comes with it’s own billing rates. A is divided into two – Non MD and MD billed for N49.75 and N67.70 kw/h, Tarriff band B Non MD and MD billed for N47.7 and N64.65kw/hr; Tariff band C Non MD and MD billed for N45.69 and N63.6kw/hr. respectively. For D and E it is frozened.
While those in C, D and E had for years accepted their fates, recent developments in the state has resulted in agony for them.
Five years ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN were first to tapped light from the new electrification Sub- station in Zango, a metropolis of Lokoja, which afforded them the opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted power supply everyday. This development made people called the electrification line – CBN line. The line has now been extended to the government house, and some part of the state capital.
Informed with this development, rich people in Lokoja begins to personally tapped the line, which come at a great price. Any interested individual have to pay the AEDC N1 million, aside providing their transformer that can accomdate the supply that comes from the 33kv sub station. The interested person will also provide recline cable (which is the only wire allowed) along with other electrification auxiliary materials to get the CBN line to their building. Afterwards, the individual becomes the owner of the transformer and charges any other interested persons who wishes to tap from his transformer.
That was how a line, dedicated for industrial use only suddenly becomes available to individual who has the money…the individual in turn mechandized the usage at a price he set by himself.
For example, Mr. Akeweje one of the wealthy persons in Lokoja lives around Redeemed headquarters, Phase 11. He was one of the earlier persons who got connected to the CBN line. Some persons visited him in the name of being the Exco of the community which he lived, urging him to grant access to the transformer. But just after he did, the community executive charges N100,000 to interested persons, who have to provide recline cable aside the “logistic” money for connection. Vanguard gathered that the development irked Akeweje who put a stop to people tapping from his transformer.
The Phase 11 community situation is the same all over the state capital. Those who owns the transformer or give it out to people to coordinate charges from N100,000 and above to each building that desires to be connected to it.
But as more people became aware of the 24 hrs CBN line, the fortune of those on lower tariff band began to dwindle.
Information from the AEDC franchise Twitter handle placed their daily purchase from Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN between 450 – 480 megawatt; which is distributed across their service states of Niger, Abuja, Kogi, and Nasarawa states. Though, breakdown for each state was not stated, but those on the 24 hrs supply are giving more priority. Invariably, the increase in the numbers of those hooked to the 24 hrs supply of band A, means a reduction in the supply for those on tarriff band C, D and E.
To achieve their aim of satisfying the 24hrs customers, AEDC reduces the supply to 9 hrs for Tarrif band C from 12 hrs. Rather than follow the norms of restoring light to those affected area by 10am, it will be delayed to 11am. Same for night. The supply which was to start by 10pm – 5am will either come an hour late, or it will be switched off before the 5am.
The ancient town of Kabba in December 2020 went berserk as youths mobilized to the AEDC office over high billing they referred to as “CRAZY BILL”
Vanguard gathered that the whole community who were placed on tarriff band D, were billed for band A. The November 2020 billed shared in the first week of December reflected so.
The area manager of the community was able to calm the nerve of the people, admitting that the bill was a technical problem that will be resolved in the next month. But nothing changes, the December bill shared in the month of January reflected same. The November ‘error’ bill was not changed either. It has now became a debt on the consumer. The community has mobilized themselves for final showdown if the anomaly is not corrected in the January bill which will be shared in February.
The scenerio in Kabba town is observable in Lokoja the state capital, but many consumers had no idea that they are placed on a wrong tariff band. One of the consumers who quickly detected the anomaly was Engineer Leke Oloruntoba.
Oloruntoba has been at logger head for some months on AEDC Twitter handle complaining bitterly about the low supply as well as the over billing.
Speaking with Vanguard at his residence, Oloruntoba revealed that the AEDC have been billing consumers with the wrong tariff, “The Tarriff band A as reflected on their system is for commercial lines, but they have been billing residential apartments with same plan. Intentionally, they places people on residential area as that of commercial. I have complained many times, but it seems those who are supposed to rectify the situation are waiting for gratification from me before they restore me to the proper band.
“Aside that, I have issue with the way they allow people to tapped into this N24 hrs line. The more people tapped into it, the less light those on the residential band enjoy. I am not against people getting onto the 24 hrs if they can pay, so that those who paid will not feel that we are complaining because we cannot afford it. But let the AEDC increase their purchase from the transmission company. They should stop placing people on the 24 hrs line until their allocation increases.”
Engr. Oloruntoba also advocated for free distribution of prepaid meter to the residence, “for me, I’m on prepaid meter, and I am still complaning about shortage of supply. Imaging the plights of those who are on estimated billing. Their light supply is decreasing, yet the billing is increasing.”
Oloruntoba urged consumers to log on into the AEDC info website with their prepaid meter number, “This process will immediately shows the Tarriff band billing for the meter. One can easily detected if it’s wrongly billed, just like I did.”
Oloruntoba also said the AEDC on their Twitter forum account complained about people by-passing the prepaid meter to connect directly some home apparatus that consume high voltage, but stressed that the situation could be corrected, “AEDC has to undertake a self accessment project to ensured they block those who by-pass. In the first instance, it is the AEDC staff that help those people carried out the by-pass. They collected money and connect some light directly to the poll through the ceiling and the other to the prepaid meter.”
90 percent of consumers on tariff band C, D and E are connected to the 11kv station, while those on the 33kv that supply 24 hrs light serves only 10 percent.
Consumers in Lokoja and Kogi state in general are complaning bitterly of poor services and decreased supply of electricity. They said they are willing to pay, if only AEDC will increase their supply and provide adequate services.