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* Insists On Getting Value For Money

By Princess Simon (Bureau Chief North Central, in Minna)

The dust raised by the industrial strike by the employees of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) are yet to settle in parts of the Niger State area as customers insist that the performance of the company is far below expectations and so should be made to sit up.

Customers in Niger state are insisting that exploitation, is part of the allegations that prompted the industrial unrest by members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE). Also, the lack of good customer relationships is very real.

Many customers are crying foul over excessive and discriminatory billing systems by the AEDC when compared to the level of services provided. Many of the customers on the other hand are enjoying electricity, paying little or nothing at the end of the month.

Some of the customers had complained that before now they recharge like N2, 000 and it will last for two weeks or more, but lately, the card now lasts for less than a week. Either they go for another recharge or they are forced to remain in darkness.

In some parts of the region, customers enjoy uninterrupted supply while others scarcely have light due to faulty or completely broken down transformers. And after such communities had taxed themselves to procure new transformers or installation components, the AEDC will claim ownership without any refund.

People with pre-paid metres are assumed to be paying more than customers on direct connection as those of them with higher power-consuming appliances like Air conditioners on monthly basis consume more than they pay on estimated billings. With this anomaly, the customers want the AEDC to evolve ways of addressing the problem and ensure equal treatment to all.

Investigations however indicate that while some customers’ claim of being over billed or using electricity through direct connection and paying little may not be far from reality as the AEDC has confirmed to journalists that the company is facing some challenges causing elements of distrust between the AEDC and its customers.

At the Bosso Area office of the AEDC where allegations of overbilling and other forms of exploitations are more, the Area Manager, Engineer Yahaya Kura, confirmed that some customers were mistakenly added to a different line where the duration of supply is longer but refuse to further expatiate because "I am not authorized to speak to journalists".

At the Regional headquarters, Alhaji Adamu Mohammed who is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Niger region comprising; Bida, Kontagora, Minna and Bosso said the problems which gave rise to the fault and customers’ complaints will soon be resolved.

Part of the problems that customers are complaining of, Adamu said, is due to the inadequate number of metres for the 27, 000 estimated customers in the zone who have indicated interest to have metres and out of which only about 5, 000 has been supplied.

Adamu Mohammed however declined comments when asked who to pay for the damages caused by the ‘technical error’ and if the affected customers were to be compensated for the AEDC computer error, but simply said, “I assure you that the problems will soon be over”.

Apart from the short of metering and the technical errors which is being remedied, the PRO decried the activities of some unpatriotic customers who indulge in alterations or by-pass of metres and illegal connections thereby causing severe damage to the company’s facilities. NNL.

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