Major mayhem, nay wanton destruction of properties and possibly lives, was at the weekend averted in Anambra State as irate electricity consumers in Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi, near the commercial city of Onitsha, were prevented by their leaders from extending their protest march to Uguwagba office of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC(formerly PHCN).
The aggrieved consumers, under the aegis of Ugwuagba Community Residents PHCN Power Consumers, had early on the day converged at the popular Old Motor Car Spare Parts Market, Ugwuagba to visit the EEDCâ€™s offices at Ugwuagba and Ogidi Business District, threatening to burn down every avaliable facility in protest against what they considered as EEDCâ€™s crazy bills without corresponding power supply.
But in order to pre-empt a possible break down of law and order, including wanton destruction of properties at the EEDC office , leaders of the aggrieved consumers directed that the protest march be cancelled outrightly so that the concerned individuals could go about their normal businesses.
However, before they dispersed, the consumers numbering over 3,000, conducted prayers, sang songs of praises to God and raised up their placards before their leaders came out one after the other to intimate them on their next planned encounter with EEDC officials.
Some of their placards read in part: â€œNo more estimated bills. We need pre-paid metersâ€, â€œWhy N8,000, N7,000, N6,000, N5,000 estimated bills per month? EEDC, you are killing usâ€. â€œEEDC, the same old wine in a new bottleâ€, â€œNo pre-paid meters, no paymentâ€, â€œYou are not giving us light and you are asking us to pay for what we did not consumeâ€.
Also some of the placards read: â€œFrom NEPA to PHCN and now EEDC, all are the same wahalaâ€, We need prepaid meters, EEDC not estimated hand bills anymoreâ€, â€œOut of 14 transformers in our area, Government gave us only two while we paid for 12, why?â€, â€œWhy should EEDC always ask us to contribute money for repairs of transformers or to buy oil for transformers and if we donâ€™t contribute, they will keep us in darkness for months and yet every month, they will send us bills?â€, among other inscriptions.
The chairman of the group, Marcel Ezenwa who addressed the members, said they will only pay N3,000 monthly as estimated bill until EEDC installs pre-paid meters in the area, adding that they would no longer allow EEDC officials to disconnect the area.
Also in a petition to the Managing Director of EEDC, Enugu Zonal Headquarters, jointly signed on their behalf, by Ezenwa, chairman; Leonard Onah, vice-chairman; Evangelist Anayo Eze, coordinator; Ambrose Ikejiofor, secretary; Ikechukwu Ezerioha, PRO, among others, the consumers expressed their grievances against the EEDC management over the crazy estimated billing system and exploitation of power consumers in the area.
They alleged that the EEDC has been milking the people of the area dry through crazy estimated billing system, hoarding of pre-paid meters and forcing them to pay for service charges of any repair work in the area.
Small scale entrepreneurs
They regretted that most small scale entrepreneurs and shopping centers in the area have closed down owing to erratic power supply while they are made to pay high bills monthly for electricity.
They therefore called on President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo; Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano and the immediate past governor, Chief Peter Obi, to prevail on the power distribution company to address the peopleâ€™s suffering.
However, when VM called on the Public Relations Officer, Ogidi Business Unit of EEDC, Charles Okoli, he said he wasnâ€™t aware of any protest. He urged any aggrieved consumers from the area to send a delegation to their office for deliberations and solution instead of embarking on protest.