The Southeastern zone of the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria (ECAN) has asked Aba entrepreneurs, especially tailors, to pay their monthly bills early and appropriately, too.
The Association has, in the same vein, criticised a recent attack on the Aba Power field staff which it called organised.
In a statement in Enugu, the ECAN chairman in the Southeast, Engineer Joe Ubani, and its secretary, Comrade Chris Okpara, explained that the advice has become necessary because of not only the refusal of some tailors on Tenant Road in Aba in Abia State to pay their bills as and when due but also their attack on officers of the Aba Power distribution company who were on a legitimate duty on August 26.
“It s difficult to fathom how some people still think that electricity should not be paid for even when the government has since 2013 left electricity distribution for private sector operators who borrowed massive funds at high interest rates to supply power to the people”, ECAN stated.
The group disclosed that its investigation into the complaint by some of the tailors that they are billed unfairly by Aba Power revealed that the allegation is not true.
“The tailors at 51 Tenant Road with 38 shops want to pay a paltry N18,000 monthly, despite being on the Ehi Road 6.6KV Feeder which has electricity more regularly than most others.
“The same goes for the tailors at 76 Tenant Road with 29 shops whereas individuals and businesses that receive special attention in the Willing-Buyer-Willing-Seller electricity arrangement in places like Lagos pay at least five times higher”.
Eric Isiguzo, a retired engineer with the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) who now runs a consulting firm in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, accused the tailors of refusing to pay their bills since last September which, according to him, show that the businesses at 51 Tenant Road in Aba are owing Aba Power N1.5m while those at 76 Tenant Road are indebted to the power distribution firm to the tune of N1.4m.
Engr Ubani and Comrade Okpara described as unfair the demand by the tailors in each of the two buildings on Tenant Road to be treated as one customer by having only one meter.
Nigerian electricity consumers should accept the disaggregation practice instead of continuing with the old bulk meter style used in villages where each rural community pays as one customer, argued the ECAN leaders, noting that the latter encourages some people to be delinquent in payment.
“Let each person have his or her own meter and be responsible for it and control how power supplied to it is utilised”, added ECAN leaders who commended Aba Power for its new prepaid metering programme for electricity consumers on the 11KV Township Feeder which supplies electricity to major areas like School Road, Azikiwe Road, Asa Road, and Faulks Road, describing it as aggressive, effective and efficient.
“Each residential flat or shop here gets its own meter and is free of the unnecessary problems inherent in sharing meters”.
The ECAN executives, however, expressed regret that the Tenant Road tailors unleashed violence on the Aba Power staff members who came to disconnect the tailors for their recalcitrance, making it inevitable to invite security men to the place to prevent further attacks and protect life and assets.
They observed: “Whereas most previous attacks on the Aba Power field operation team members were by one or two individuals except those that took place in villages or a fairly large group organised two except in villages, the attack of August 26 was organised by a large group; it wasn’t a spontaneous action.
“The group of individuals who carried out the dastardly act this time has given not just the Aba Metropolis but Abia State a bad name, making the entire state look like a place not friendly and not ready for business, which is a sharp contrast to the commendable effort by Governor Alex Otti to reposition the state as a foremost investment destination”.