Metro

Cross River residents protest poor electricity supply, ‘prepaid meter fraud’

Residents of Cross River have called on the Federal Government to revoke the licence of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) for poor performance and exploitation of consumers.

The residents who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Calabar, lamented the spate of poor power supply in the state in the past one month and the exploitative estimated bills they receive.

A consumer, Mrs Offiong Okon, a medical doctor, said: “We are really suffering at 8 miles area, the situation was not this bad because we started using pre-paid meter. We usually spend N25,000 every two months.

“But six days ago, we recharged our prepaid meter with N25,000 and today, our meter is reading minus 287 in six days even when we don’t have power for more than one hour a day.

“It is fraud, it is wicked and we are in trouble. Federal government should withdraw PHEDC’s licence and give it to competent hands to come into the business.

On their part, a group, Concerned Electricity Consumers, has given the PHEDC two weeks within which its Zonal Manager, Mr Collins Igwe, should be transferred from Cross River.

Led by Mr. Celestine Nsefik, the group accused the zonal manager of playing god by not giving consumers electricity even though consumers continue to pay for power that never comes.

“We are giving PHEDC two weeks to withdraw their zonal manager in Cross River because since he assumed duty in the state in July 2021, we have been grappling with the issue of blackout in the state.

“We pay so much for estimated billing, yet we don’t have light, the situation was not this bad prior to his coming. It is a deliberate way of ripping consumers who pay so much for estimated billing without light.

“We cannot continue to watch him keep us in darkness while suffocating us with bills.

“PHEDC is supposed to abide by the Service Reflective Tariff system, whereby consumers pay for energy consumed; the tariff should be equal to service,” Nsefik said.

Meanwhile, Mr Aniefiok Matthew, who showed NAN his bill for Nov. and Dec. 2021, complained bitterly of what he described as reckless estimated billing system by PHEDC in the state.

“I stay in the Atimbo Area of Calabar. In November, we received a bill of N12,900 which we paid totally, in December. They sent us a bill of N35,400, which is almost a 200 per cent increase, that is crazy.

“Now for the past one month, we have hardly seen power supply for more that two hours daily that is for days you even see it. Rumors going round has it that the zonal manager said only two to three hours of power should be given daily in Calabar.

Meanwhile, the Clan Head of Kasuk 11 community in Calabar, Chief Ededem Okon Ayito, who also complained about the poor power situation in Calabar, said in other climes, PHEDC would be sued and made to pay for damages.

“Here a community would be without power for over six months due to bad transformer and when they contribute and buy a new one, PHEDC will send them bills for the six months they had no power, where is that done?” he asked.

When contacted, Igwe declined to comment, claiming that he was not given authorisation to speak to the press.

It would be recalled that sometimes ago, residents of Akpabuyo besieged the head office of the PHEDC in the state to ask for the transfer or dismissal of the former manager, Mr Maurice Ibok, over poor performance which almost led to chaos

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