Residents and the Nasarawa state government openly displayed their frustrations with the poor service by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) on Saturday with conclusion that the power firm had no business remaining in the state.
They complained of over-billing, lack of electricity in the state for months and lethargy by the power company.
Rilwanu Elayo, a resident of Lafia metropolis, said for the past two months, AEDC had failed to supply electricity to most parts of Lafia metropolis, throwing the residents into darkness and discomfort.
“AEDC has succeeded only in transmitting ‘darkness’ and we have been paying for ‘darkness’ since April” he said.
The State’s Deputy Governor, Silas Agara corroborated Elayo’s frustration accusing the power firm of shortchanging the residents through over billing and estimated billing while they live in darkness.
Agara, represented by Mohammed Wada, the Commissioner for Works and Transports, said ” the only way the customers will be satisfied is when they have pre-paid meters and are sure that they only pay for electricity consumed”.
They all spoke at a Town Hall meeting on Saturday by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Lafia, where the residents and state government poured out their discontent wth the Abuja power firm.
NERC had organised the meeting to feel the pulse of electricity consumers on the service and responsiveness of the power firm in the state.
“The best thing is for you (AEDC) to leave, or install prepayment meters in homes, so that you stop charging us for ‘darkness’,’’ Elayo said.
Mr Ayuba Adamu, a retired police officer residing in Bukan Sidi area, said he had made repeated complaints to AEDC but noted the company was not responsive.
“I complained to them verbally and in writing, but they refused to respond to my letter on why we should be paying for service not rendered”.
“Please, I am begging in the name of God, my electricity account should be closed for good because the truth is that there is no transformer in my area, yet bills keep coming,’’ he said.
Responding on behalf of the company, Christopher Chime, AEDC Area Manager in charge of Keffi, expressed sadness over the complaints and apologised to the people.
He said AEDC was still a ‘baby company’ of just three years.
“For all that has happened, we are sincerely sorry. One of the major challenges facing Lafia is that Nasarawa is the only state without a super grid.
“Lafia is among the state capitals with the highest voltage level in the country, which is 330kv.
“So I crave for your patience as we work harder to improve supply; the truth is that electricity for Lafia comes from Akwanga and the voltage is not very good, hence the shortages.
“By the time we have 330kv working in Nasarawa, the situation will change for good,’’ he pleaded.
Chime assured of supply of 1,500 pre-paid meters to residents of Lafia before the end of July.
“Approval has been made. It is only for us to do the programming of the meters before we start distributing to our customers,’’ he explained.
Agara disclosed of the land donated by the state government land the offer to facilitate the installation of a 3000 KVA transformer in Lafia.
“If the transformer is installed, it will go a long way in addressing the poor electricity supply in the state,’’ he said.
Also, Moses Arigu, the NERC Commissioner in charge of Consumers Affairs, assured electricity consumers of the commission’s determination to ensure that distribution companies adhere to the operational guidelines.
“The commission has concluded plans to open an office in Lafia for the consumers to channel their complaints for redress,’’ he said.