By Stephen Ubanna
For weeks, residents of Olaniyi Community in Alimosho Local government Area, of Lagos state, south west Nigeria, have been thrown into darkness by the the Ikeja, Distribution Company, Discos, undertaker unit, at Orelope for protesting against outrageous bills given to the residents.
One Eng Fred, the Ikeja DISCOS, undertaken Manager at the Orelope office with the backing of the Technical Manager, TM ,were said to have conspired to throw the community into darkness for weeks for fighting for their right. The duo were said to have cashed in on the excuse that the Youths of the Community molested their disconnecting staff carrying out their legitimate duties.
Problems was said to have started when the undertaken Manager, at the Ikeja Discos, Orelope unit, allegedly engaged the services of security Operatives to disconnect the Community from the High Tension line. The Community leaders were said to have Complained that the Ikeja Discos officials took the unilateral decision to disconnect from the High Tension Line without consultation.
In anger, the Community Leaders were said to have taken up the matter with the officials of the Orelope, undertaking unit insisting that they must be supplied and connected to the Prepaid metre as obtained in Mushi, Ikeja and other Local government areas of the state. Even some Communities in the Alimosho Local government area, were said to have been connected to the Prepaid metre, leaving out Olaniyi, until it got to this crisis point.
The Iikeja Discos, Orelope officials were said to have dragged the Community, to the Isheri Police station where the people were said to have been forced to sign an undertaken that they would never molest the Orelope Undertaker unit officials disconnecting defaulters light again.
Many had expected that after the police intervention, the Orelope undertaker unit officials and their superiors at the Ponle office at Iyana Ipaja would restore the light to the Community but they remained hesitant to do so.
The Value News cornered Eng. Fred, the Orelope undertaken Manager , within the office premise, who looked well fed to ascertain from him why the Olaniyi Community had been thrown into dakeness for weeks, but he disclosed that many of the residents owed thousands of naira but had refused to pay noting that it is affecting the agents monthly delivery to the Ikeja Discos. He was emphatic that the light would not” be restored to the Community until about 80% of the debt are collected”.
The Magazine took him up on residents using the Pre-paid meters and who settle their monthly Electricity. bills as at when do including those running their private business, particular, those who own cool rooms, Cyber Café, among others, what have happens to them? .
His response was that he cannot on his own switch on the Community light without the approval his superiors at Ponle and the Ikeja office, who are aware of the Olaniyi Community problem, thus further increasing the suffering of the people.
A resident of the Community who spoke to the Magazine angrily disclosed that the Orelope Under- kaker unit of the IKeja Discos, have no reason to throw the Olaniyi Community the into darkness because they had contributed money to procure their own Transformer, without ant contribution from the service provider after eight months of being in darkness.
Unknown to the Olaniyi residents, the Orelope Undertaker Unit marketers were still calculating the bills which run into thousands of naira for the residents. It was learnt that when the light was eventually, restored, the residents refused to pay the accumulated ills , insisting that the eight months must be deducted from the bill sent to them, it was said said to have turned war.
. The matter was said to have been dragged to the Ikeja office but the they were said to given the Community across the board concession of N20,000.00 which was said to have been rejected by the people . But the Orelope undertaking Unit officials would not take it, insisting that the accumulated debt must be paid.
There are many other Communities in Lagos state and other parts of Nigeria who suffering the same problem as the 11 service providers appear to have put all financial burden of running their Transmission Company on the Electricity consumers. Take for instance the March, 2021, bill , given to the residents of the Community was considered very outrageous, The bill ranges between N11,000.00 to to N31,000.00 for a three bedroom flat. The same three bedroom flat goes for N8,000.00 in Ikotun.
The question on the lips of most people was whether it is not the same Ikeja Discos marketers that are doing the reading of the analogue metres. This is an indication that either the Orelope Undertaking unit marketers were not entering into the compounds to read the metters and they just recommend whatever amount they want for a Particular house to show that they are working and making money of the Distribution Company.
The worry of the Olaniyi Community residents is that the Ikeja Discos Orelope undertaker unit marketers and the Accountant had unilaterally started implementing the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, tariff for the 11 distribution Companies operating in the country including the Ikeja, Discos. The Commission had attributed the tariff review which ought to begin July 2021, to the rising inflation in the country, depreciation of the naira in the foreign exchange market, gas prices, available generating capacity of the generating companies and capital expenditure of the Companies. The NERC, may have considered the tariff review as a way to assist the 11 Transmission Companies recover their cost of operation in the country without loses.
Note that NRC,, provides for minor review every six months , major reviews every five years and extra-ordinary tariffs review in in Industrial areas, where the parameters have changed from those used in the operating tariff to such an extent that a review is necessary to maintain to maintain the viability of the industry.
In spite of the fact thhat the Orelope undertaking unit of the Ikeja Discos had thrown the Olaniyi Community in Lagos state, into darkness for weeks, the darkness which have spread to the entire country with the unexpected ‘’breakdown of some parts of the national grid on Wednesday, May 12, 2021’’., may not not be news to the Community. This is because the resident of the Community have been thrown into darkness deliberately by the Orelope undertaking unit for weeks to prove that the ball stop on their table.
Given the implications of the system break down to the country , particular, with the heightened insecurity situation of the country, orchestrated by the Islamic Fundamentalist Grorp, BokoHaran, Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, splinter of group of the original BokoHaram in 2016, insurgents, Banditry, Kidnapping and other Criminal gangs activities in different parts of the country may have forced the company to begin the grid immediate recovery.
Ndidi Mbah, General Manger, Public Affairs, of the Transmission Company of Nigeria,TCN, had said that they have commenced the grid recovery from Shiroro, Hydro power, Generating Station to Katampe Transmission station, Abuja through the Katampe Line and also through the Delta Generating Station to Benin, Edo state , Transmission Substation. He disclosed that the work has reached Oshogbo, Capital of Osun state, and some parts of Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre.
The TCN, spokesperson, noted that while efforts are being made ‘’ to ensure the national grid restoration and power gradually in the country, the Company have begun’ ’investigations to ascertain the cause of the voltage collapse that precipitated the system failure’’.
Mbah, who could not hide his feelings had said that the national grid break down had come barely a week, after President Muammadu Buhari, a retired Army General and Commander-In- Chief, C-In-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had approved N6.2 billion for’’ the award of contracts for six projects in the power sector in 2021’’.
Given an insider information on how the money would be spent, Mamman Saleh, minister of Power, was said that that the approved N6.2billion would be used ‘’ to boost power supply in the country’’ in the award of a contracst ‘’for the design, manufacture, and supply of critical spare parts from Crompton Greaves 330KV, and 33KV Circuit Breakers, expected to cost N298,339,887.04.
This is in addition to the procurement of 50 sets of 400AH battery banks, 30 to 50volts and 30 number of 110 volts battery charges of the substation used by the Transmission Company , which is also expected to cost N644,805,953.10. There are other power equipment and supplies, which the N6.2 billion approved for the power sector would also be used for within the year.