NEPA, IBEDC Will Be Sued For Breaking Promise on light - Sango Ota Customers

In this piece, STEPHEN UBIMAGO writes on the perennial darkness to which residents of the Ijoko-Ota area of Ogun State are plunged due to the inefficiencies of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC)

Electricity consumers in most parts of Ogun State, including the Ota area, particularly Ijoko-Ota, have not ceased to complain about month-on-month, year-on-year poor power supply in their area.

This is quite in contradistinction to feelers from many parts of neighboring Lagos which indicate that the power supply situation has seen significant improvement.

They lament that although the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company Plc (IBEDC), which holds the franchise for supplying electricity to the area, hardly fails to slam them with monthly estimated bill; they enjoy not more than three hours of electricity supply during the day.

According to Mrs. Dunni Banjoko, a teacher, who resides in the Ijoko-Ota area, “We see light for not more than two hours during the day.

“The light would often return between 12 o’clock midnight and 1am, and disappear around 4am.

“How much electricity do we need during the midnight period, because that is when everyone is in the bed sleeping. They bring the light when people are fast asleep; and just when they are about to wake up, they seize it.

“Sometimes, for days on end you won’t see light at all. But every month they don’t fail to slam us with bill – of course, estimated bill.

“The light situation in this our area is indeed very porous and frustrating.”

She even narrated that the situation is worse off in parts of the area that are further in the interior, since they don’t even get to enjoy electricity at all.

“There are parts of Ijoko-Ota area that are far inside where electricity only returns once in a month or once in several months and the experience is for no more than a few hours, and the residents are back to square one,” she revealed.

Her lamentation is representative of those of other consumers who further told NAN in Ota that not a few residents of the area are seriously contemplating relocating because of poor electricity supply by IBEDC in the area.

“It is unfortunate that we are experiencing this sustained blackout; I thought the Buhari government will bring us out of the doldrums. Is it not part of why we voted for him? But it appears we are being plunged deeper into darkness every passing day particularly by this IBEDC,” Mrs. Pamela Akudo, a trader and Ijoko-Ota resident,

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She added, “It is so bad that you cannot buy food items in bulk and store in the freezer to save cost in this harsh economy; government should overhaul the power sector and get rid of clogs in the wheel of progress.

“There is no value for the money. We pay for electricity not supplied. It is very unfortunate that the privatisation of the power sector by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration has not improved power supply.

“In the past three weeks or more power supply has really deteriorated that we can only boast of light for few hours in a week.

“The government should do something urgently to ensure improved and stable power supply in our area.”

A look at the area of coverage by the IBEDC, compared to the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company Plc (IKEDC) and the Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC), appears to indicate that the company is overburdened considering that its coverage area spans four states, namely Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Kwara States.

While the duo of IKEDC and EKEDC supplies electricity to Lagos State alone; IBEDC distributes and markets electricity to a service area that is subdivided into eight districts in four states, namely, Abeokuta, Dugbe, Molete, Ijebu-Ode, Osogbo, Ilorin, Sango-ota and Oyo. And here indeed lies the problem.

As such, Ayokunle Sote, retired school principal and landlord in the area, suggested in a chat with Daily Independent that the Federal Government and the agency responsible for regulating the activities of the DISCOs, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), should overhaul the electricity distribution architecture in the South West.

In which case, it is either the IKEDC and EKEDC are made to simultaneously cover Lagos and Ogun States or an additional distribution company should be licensed to operate in the region and help to ease the burden or rather the gross inefficiency of IBEDC.

He said, “I sincerely believe that the solution to the gross inefficiency of IBEDC in not being able to supply us with at least manageable electricity lies in setting up of a new distribution company to complement the already existing ones.

Otherwise we should be linked to the distribution platforms of the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) responsible for servicing the Abule-Egba or Agege or Ojodu or indeed the Iju/Agbado areas.”

To state that IBEDC’s inefficiency is well documented is to note the obvious.

In a recent report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), residents of Abeokuta made similar lamentation, describing IBEDC’s services as very poor.

“They `flash’ it sometimes or provide two or three hours of electricity every other day,” one Abeokuta resident had unburdened to NAN last year.

Besides, the IBEDC has some internal challenges of debts it’s grappling with, which also might not be unconnected to its poor services.

Sometime in June, NERC announced its suspension of the company’s entire management board for failing to recover about N6 billion loan, which the company allegedly transferred to its core investor, the Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Group (IEDMG) Ltd.

The money had been obtained as a loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to upgrade its operations.

The action came after the regulatory agency in September 2017 fined IBEDC N50 million for giving out the loan worth, as said, N6 billion from the N11.367 billion it received from the CBN.

Unverified reports however indicate that the loan had been recovered and that a letter in that regard has been transmitted to the NERC.

Against this backdrop, it is to be noted that unlike in the past when civil actions in negligence or breach of contract or what not could hardly be filed against the defunct monopoly, National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), later re-christened Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the new legal regime provides differently.

Under the current legal regime, ever since the last administration initiated reforms in the power sector, consumers of electricity can now bring civil actions against the DISCOs.

This should be a wakeup call on IBEDC to sit up; otherwise it may start paying heavily in damages for failure to meet its contractual obligation to customers, especially those in the Ota area.

For instance, recently, the Akinlolu Omoyinmi family of Lagos filed a suit at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja against the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company over an estimated electricity bill of N436, 000 served on the family house at 42/44 Ajakaiye Street, Onipetesi, Ikeja for March, 2016.

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