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EKEDC decries energy theft, illegal connection in Lekki

EKEDC decries energy theft, illegal connection in Lekki

 

By Yusuf Yunus

Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) has decried the rising energy theft and illegal connection by residents within the Lekki business unit and threatened to prosecute anyone caught in the act.

Dr Tinuade Sanda, the Chief Executive Office, EKEDC, said this during the customers’ engagement forum in Lagos tagged: “DisCo’s Energy Theft Awareness Week.”

Sanda represented by Ms Catherine Ezeafulukwe, the Chief Customer Experience Officer of EKEDC, said a high rate of energy theft was the major hindrance to steady power supply within the area.

She explained that the primary objective of the engagement forum in the Lekki district was to improve the quality of supply to the customers.

She said the Disco had achieved this by listening to customer feedback, identifying areas of improvement, and working to ensure better outcomes.

Sanda explained that customers’ criticism would continue to serve as a catalyst for improvement.

She appealed to customers within the axis to join the company in the fight against energy theft.

This, she said, had continued to negatively impact the supply and distribution of power in the area.

Sanda disclosed that the management of EKEDC was working with the police and communities’ vigilante to reduce vandalism on its network.

She said the DisCo had arrested many of the vandals who are currently being prosecuted.

Sanda also condemned the illegal activities of ex-officials of EKEDC who were found to have been involved in defrauding customers within the Lekki-Ajah axis.

According to her, EKEDC has taken actions including suspension and dismissal of staff found guilty of this act.

“This act is now beyond our control because the action is being perpetrated by some ex-officials of EKEDC who no longer work for the organisation, but have clear understanding of the power network in the area.

“We are committed to arresting these criminals.

“At the moment, we have devoted resources into cleaning up the system and that is why once these criminals are reported to the authorities, we will follow up the prosecution in the court,” she said.

She, however, advised customers to expose those bypassing meter and energy theft in their areas.

“The fact is that over 80 per cent of these criminals are our old and dismissed staff. We need the cooperation of the general public to help us identify and hand them over to the police.

“It is not in our interest to allow unscrupulous elements to continue to thrive by defrauding our customers,” she said.

Sanda noted power from the grid was cheaper when compared with the cost of powering homes and offices with diesel.

She lamented that it was unfortunate that many customers were not willing to pay for their consumption.

“This is why we are struggling as an electricity distribution company to recoup our bills.

“To address this issue, we have implemented a policy requiring all customers on distribution transformers to pay up to 50 per cent of the energy consumed in a particular period before they can enjoy more service.

“EKEDC has continued to invest in distribution equipment and infrastructure to improve services, but customers must be willing to pay for the energy they consume,” she said.

On meter, Sanda disclosed that EKEDC had commenced aggressive metering of all its customers who have paid for the facility.

She observed that the process was suspended to make adjustment for the order by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to increase price of the prepaid meters due to the inflation rate and foreign exchange volatility.

She said in the last two weeks, the management of EKEDC had rolled out the processes and affirming that the company is back on track to complete both old and new registration.

“We have started working aggressively with our vendors and we assure our esteemed customers that between now and the end of the year, they are going to see massive improvement in our metering system.

“We have signed up more engagement with new vendors. We have more Meter Assets Providers contractors than what we used to have in the past.

“We are really assuring that between now and the end of year, we are going to close the gap of metering request that we have today.

“It is also to our advantage that our customers are metered.

“This would enable us to account for every energy that is consumed by customers.

“We can then reduce the energy theft within the system,” she added.

Also speaking, Mr Oluwafemi Olaoye, the General Manager Technical, EKEDC, addressed the discrepancies in power supply in some areas against others.

Olaoye explained that feeders in different locations are classified into different categories and bands, ranging from band A to E.

“Each band has a specific hour of the day when electricity is supplied on those feeders,” Olaoye said.

Olaoye stated that EKEDC has a mechanism in place to evaluate energy consumption in different bands.

Mr Uche Iyanko, the Power Committee Chairman, Lekki Community, commended the efforts of EKEDC and its customers for their successful and stable relationship spanning over a decade.

Iyanko also praised the progress made in electricity supply in the Lekki Ajah axis over the past decade but called for further improvements in service delivery to match the area’s economic importance.

He said the Lekki axis was the most important urban centre and economic hub in Nigeria, including Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Lekki and Epe.

Iyanko emphasised the need for high-quality service in the area, as it is a highly viable and economically stable district.

He noted that while cable and transformer purchases have improved over the past 10 years, the actual service provided has not met expectations.

He emphasised that the Lekki and its environment should not be outdone by other regions such as Cyprus and Greece, and that 24-hour electricity is essential to match advanced societies of the world.

Iyako also said the importance of power in making places like the United Arab Emirates better and called for a similar transformation in the Lekki-Ajah axis.

He noted that the commitment of EKEDC to improve electricity in the Lekki axis would lead to an economic boom, creating employment opportunities and reducing insecurity and crime in the society.

He stressed the need for effective communication between the utility company and customers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

To achieve these goals, Iyako called for collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders to ensure a seamless migration for customers on the STS TID rollover system.

He also urged the dissemination of information to address concerns raised over upgrading customer meters to the new Standard Transfer Specification (STS).

Mrs Teniola Jayeola, a customer, praised EKEDC for organising the forum, which according to her has provided customers with the opportunity to express their concerns and discuss relevant issues within the Lekki area.

According to her, the forum has been highly interactive, and participants have learned a lot from the discussions.

Jayeola also charged customers in the Lekki axis to be patient and cooperate with the management of EKEDC to improve services in the area.

Commenting on the issue of power theft, Jayeola urged customers to resist the temptation to bypass their meters and encourage peer theft, warning that the illegality was affecting everyone in the area.

Jayeola also emphasised the need for customers in the Lekki axis to understand the situation and support the company in addressing the issue.

The customers at the forum were drawn from Lekki Business Unit which covers Lekki Phase, Ilasan, Ikota, Ikate, Ikate Elegushi, Osapa, Chevron, Igbo Efon and Agungi.

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