By; AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC), said it would soon commence to quite illegal electricity consumers under its right of way, while warning customers to desist from illegal connection or face grave consequences.
The Chief Executive Officer, EKEDC, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, disclosed this at a customer consultative town hall meeting with Apapa electricity customers in Lagos.
Fadeyibi, said that the town hall meeting became important to rob minds with customers within its network on the challenges facing the company.
According to him, it will also fashion way of addressing such problems amicably.
He said the essence of the town hall meeting was also to discuss with customers on how to improve on service delivery.
Fadebiyi said, “The continuous engagement with customers has been a long-standing customer’s relationship that has been built overtime which needs to be sustained.
“We have agreed to engage our customers based on the complaint that previous administration was not doing enough on customers’ service delivery.
“So far, we have been able to recorded about 150 per cent improvement customers’ service delivery.”
He decried the high rate of energy theft and illegal constructions along the company’s right of way by customers within the network.
The EKEDC helmsman said the measure became necessary against the backdrop of billion lost to various forms of energy theft and vandalism in the zone.
He warned: “Any act of infraction will be met with a stiff penalty. Enough is enough; Eko Disco will no longer tolerate this act of illegal tampering of our equipment and electrical installations.
“Tampering with Eko Disco meters, installations, distribution lines, equipment or assault on any field worker will attract a jail term.
“The management of EKEDC will no longer handle these actions with kid gloves; this is no empty threat. If you disregard this warning, you do so at your own risk,” he said.”
The EKEDC boss said it cost the company a huge amount to replace vandalised equipment and meters damaged by customers in a bid to bypass the meters.
Fadeyibi also said the company would henceforth commence effective prosecution of energy theft suspects, and also publish their names in the national dailies.
“We appeal to our customers to avoid engaging in by-passing the meters because it’s criminal and punishable under the Electricity Regulation Code of Conduct Act.
“l advise our customers to exercise a little patience with EKEDC, as we promise to address all issues regarding billings, metering, and other challenges.”
The CEO added that the newly introduced Metering Assets Providers (MAP) by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), would address metering challenges when it finally kicks off.
He said that company had completed all the process regarding MAP, adding that it was working on finalizing enumeration.
“We are ready from our own end, but expecting the regulator to give go-ahead.
He said that the company was expected to commence effective metering of its customers under the MAP arrangement this month, once the regulator gives its go-ahead.
Fadayibi also said that the company would commence cashless payment of electricity bills in April, adding that the company did not want the staff to handle cash anymore.
According to him, Eko staff will no longer be handling cash any more, meaning that customers are excepted to pay their bills through banks and accredited agents .
“We do not want our staff take the risk of handling cash directly. We have designated agents at all our district offices, they will handle cash but for us we are no longer handling cash.
“We urge customers to embrace modern electronic payment for electricity consumption, as we works towards eliminating cash payment.
“The effort is to reduce payment queues at some of the EKEDC offices and embracing electronic payment options that will make customers enjoy conveniences,’’ he said.
He explained that the new payment options were designed to offer all customers security, greater convenience and choice, and also intended to make the payment process more efficient.
“There is really no need to come to the office for payment.
“ Customers will save themselves from the inconvenience of being defrauded if they always make payments through our approved channels and collect their receipts
“By expanding our payment platforms, customers can now make payments and purchase tokens seamlessly by using scratch card vouchers,.
“These are sold by vendors and agents across its networks.
“An example is Quick-teller which can be accessed on mobile devices and through internet banking on online banking portals.
“We are committed to providing our customers with the greatest level of customer service and introducing these multiple secure and convenient payment channels is yet another aspect of our service offering,’’ he said.
The Area Commandant Area ‘B’ ACP Mohammed Adamu commended the company for the appreciable improvement in power supply in Apapa axis, while warning electricity consumers to desist from attacking EKEDC’s officials.He urged consumers to use dialogue in addressing disputes than engaging in violence and attacking official in the course of doing their official duty.