‘We only pay for darkness…’
•Enugu communities protest hike, non-supply of electricity
FOR allegedly compelling them to pay for ‘darkness,’ three communities in Enugu State Wednesday stormed the Abakpa area office of the Enugu
Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC), accusing the power firm of exploitation.
Residents of the three communities, mostly aged men and women, who were led by two traditional rulers, said the EEDC was compelling them to pay for ‘darkness’ at exorbitant rate.
The communities included: Iwollo, Akama and Oyofo, all in Ezeagu Local Council of Enugu State.
They had stormed the area office located within the state capital in hired buses and carried placards with various inscriptions, “ EEDC should stop exploiting us. EEDC should charge us only what we consumed. They are not being sensitive to the fact that we are rural people. EEDC should supply light to us”, among others.
They sang and danced round the company’s premises until its officials came out to listen to them.
One of the royal fathers and paramount ruler of Oyofo community, His Highness, Igwe Christopher Chukwuemeka Ejiofo, said although he had made spirited efforts to get the EEDC to reduce the arbitrary charge, the power firm had not made any serious move in that direction.
Igwe Ejiofo, who is also the secretary of Ezeagu Council of Traditional Rulers’ Council, said: “I live in the village. I don’t stay in Enugu, I’m very close to my people, so I know their feelings.
“We hardly enjoy power supply. It comes and goes and sometimes, it doesn’t come for two months. I can afford it, so I went and ordered for solar energy in my palace because the EEDC is very unreliable. I have the interest of my people at heart. How many of them can afford solar-powered energy?”
He continued: “I don’t like a situation where people are being cheated. We had a bill of N46,000 last year for one transformer, the other one was N34,000; in December last year, the bill rose to N246,000 for one transformer and the other transformer was N213,000. Who would accept such outrageous bill and for what purpose?
“We all know the condition of the poor people in the village; if you want to make profit, it’s a gradual thing, you must not over-tax the poor rural dwellers.
“Besides, I am aware that the Federal Government subsidizes power for rural dwellers, to make up the balance for what those in the city pay.
Curiously, the EEDC gets this money for subsidy and still goes ahead to charge us arbitrarily and nobody can accept it.
“I have been in Nigeria. I have served in the Nigerian Army, served in the Biafran Army; I was ADC to Ojukwu, so, I feel the pulse of the
people. People should not cheat their own people, especially the poor village farmers”.
On the efforts he made prior to the protest, he said, “I wrote a letter and sent it to the person in charge of consumer unit. What they did was to reduce each of the bills to over N100,000; so it is still three times higher than what we used to pay. We are saying no to that”.
The protesters and officials of the EEDC had later gone into a closed door meeting. Contacted later, EEDC’s Public Relations Manager, Mr. Eugene Aniowo said he was not aware of the development, adding that the company would re-adjust the bills if it found out that the charges were unnecessarily high.
He said the company had worked hard to ensure prompt distribution of power supply, assuring that EEDC would not let any of her customers down in the discharge of its duties.