A Coalition of Plateau Residents for Peace and Development, on Thursday staged a peaceful protest to the headquarters of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) in Jos, decrying outrageous and indiscriminate estimated billing system among others ongoing in the State.
The residents who came out in their numbers threatened to sue JED if its prayers are not attended to before 24th of February, 2017.
Presenting the issues to some management staff of JED in front of its headquarters, Barrister Sam Tokz who spoke on behalf of the residents, enumerated the challenges to include, “Outrageous and indiscriminate Estimated Billing System to charge consumers of the Company (JED PLC).
“Consumers under the Estimated Billing Methodology are being charged above their power consumption despite the present poor power supply.
“The replacement of old calibrated prepaid meters with new uncaliberated prepaid meters without proper sensitization/enlightenment of the consumers on the new meter, retrieval of the old which were bought by customers without refunds of their funds since the prepaid meters are installed for free.
“The high charge on cost of installation/initial units of the new prepaid meter where the sum of (N7,310) in a time of economic hardships and the hardship consumers undergo to transfer credit balance from the replaced meters to the new meters.
“Demand for equal tariff with other States for example Distribution Companies in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna States Distribution Companies in Lagos, Abuja, and Kaduna States charging N15, N18 and N19 respectively as tariffs for residential consumers. This is because there are discrepancies in the tariffs with Plateau State paying the highest.
“Application of appropriate tariff codes to consumers to reflect their consumptions. We noticed that there are residential customers who are wrongly coded to pay charges for commercial customers.
“Poor response to customers’ complaints by staff of JED PLC and unprofessional conduct of some staff of the company, among others.
He,however, lamented that, while discussions were ongoing to see how the aforementioned would be handled in an earlier meeting with management of JED, “JED further reviewed its tariff upward this Month, February, 2017 for residential consumers (R2) from N26.93 to N29.81 without consultations with the consumers on the reasons behind the upward review of its tariff.
“This is in total disregard to the dialogue we have opened with them which informed our decision for this peaceful protest to ventilate our grievances to ensure that residents of Plateau State are treated fairly, equally and justly as other States as well as pay exactly for their power consumption.
“Our prayers to JED PLC include the following; the tariff rates for Plateau State should be the same as obtainable in Distribution Companies in Lagos, Abuja, and Kaduna States charging N15, N18 and N19 respectively as tariffs for residential consumers.
“There should be proper consultations with key stakeholders on the new prepaid meters and the certification that they are calibrated to ensure that they charge according to the consumption of the customers. This is because the new prepaid meters currently charges over 200% above the replaced calibrated meters.
“Technicians must certify that the new prepaid meters are calibrated before they are installed, as only Plateau State is targeted with the new prepaid meter which charges more than the ones removed.
“All customers under the Estimated Billing Methodology (unmetered customers) are supplied and installed with certified calibrated prepaid meters after due consultations with the consumers.
“This is to address the issues of outrageous and indiscriminate billing of the customers and customers get value for the services they enjoy.
He maintained that, residents who have paid for prepaid meters but not supplied should be urgently provided with meters and refunded since prepaid meters are free or credited with unit equivalent to the amount they paid accordingly.
“Customers under the Estimated Billing Methodology are charged only for the power they consume before prepaid meters are installed to them.
Tokz called on JED PLC to decentralize the point for acquiring and paying for the programming of the new prepaid meters, saying the headquarters of JED PLC at Ahmadu Bello Way, Jos which is the central point for these is densely populated.
“The business offices should be empowered to do the functions mentioned here.”
He further stated that, the charges for installation (programming) and initial units in prepaid meters which is (N7,130) should be revisited, saying it is not the decision of the consumers for the meters to be replaced but that of the Distribution Company.
“Therefore customers should only pay for units which they can afford or intend to buy (installation fee should be borne by JED PLC).
“There should be effective communication through continuous enlightenment, consultation and education between JED PLC and its stakeholders which is currently defective to enhance trust and confidence and avoid suspicion by customers.
“Issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should be considered as Plateau State is currently not enjoying from JED PLC in terms of people-oriented projects and programmes that will have direct impacts on the people and society at large.
“The Company (JED PLC) should have well trained and friendly staff with good human relation who will attend to customers’ complains swiftly.
“If our prayers are not adequately addressed from now to 24th February, 2017, we’ll be left with the option of legal actions to press home our demand for the common good of all residents of Plateau State who are consumers of JED PLC”, he warned.
Responding, Senior Manager Planning and Network Expansion, Engr. Mansur Nakande, assured that the management will look into the issues raised.
On the issue of high tariff, Nakande said, “Some of this tariff, honestly I don’t know where this my comrade got that information, but what I have from the regulator, is not the same with yours.
“Out of the eleven companies that cover the entire federation, Abuja has N24, Kaduna N27.4, Kano N25, Yola N25.7, Jos N29.8, Port Harcourt h N30.2, Benin N31.27, Eko N22.3, Ibadan N24.97, Ikeja N21.1 and Enugu has N30.93.
He added that, contrary to reports that the distribution of meters is only ongoing in Plateau, the organization has also commenced distribution of meters in Bauchi, Gombe and Benue States.