Residents of Isieke Housing Estate in Umuahia, the Abia capital, have appealed to the management of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to take steps to permanently deal with the lingering epileptic power situation in the area.
The people made the appeal on Wednesday, while briefing newsmen on their “pathetic experience” which, they said, had persisted for about eight years.
Operating under the eagis of Isieke Housing Estate Neighbourhood Association, they regretted that the area had suffered untold neglect in terms of infrastructure and basic social amenities.
“Our major problem is lack of electricity. EEDC is shortchanging us. They make us to pay for services not provided,” they said.
A prominent resident of the area, retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr Onyinye Iroham, and the Chairman of the association, Mr Godson Chukwu, said that they had lived virtually in darkness.
“We live in darkness here except for those who can afford to run their generators on a daily basis.
“The only period they give what looks like a candle light, which does not power any electronic gadgets, is when they want to share the monthly bills.
“They will merely flash the light for less then three hours cummulatively for two days and the third day, you see their men sharing bills,” Iroham and Chukwu said.
They complained that EEDC had continued to bill them on estimation, even when some of them had long paid for pre-paid meters that had yet to be installed.
They also complained that residents regularly undertook the repairs of faulty transformers and fallen poles “because of excuses and delays by EEDC officials in Umuahia”.
They said that the association raised about half a million naira to repair one of the two transformers in the estate that got burnt in December.
“Usually, the officials will tell you that customers are not allowed to repair EEDC faulty equipment and that consumers should apply to their headquarters on any fault.
“Unfortunately, when you apply and wait for a long time and nothing happens, they will advise you to buy the parts and engage their men to fix the equipment.
“We spent about half a million naira in December to buy the burnt parts in one of the transformers and also paid for the workmanship,” Chukwu said.
The people also alleged that shortly after fixing the transformer, EEDC brought bills and compelled them to pay, in spite of what they spent fixing the equipment.
They accused EEDC officials of using thugs to harass, intimidate and extort money from them during electricity bill drive in the estate.
“They come here with thugs to disconnect buildings and carry away our cables.
“This is extortion because the company does not give us light. Let them give us light,” Chukwu, popularly called Ambassador, said.
The group said that it had made several attempts to get the EEDC officials in Umuahia to address their issues but continued to get “shabby treatment”.
In a letter written by a legal practitioner, Victor Onoka of Olugbo Chambers to EEDC, dated Oct. 8, the associaition expressed deep sadness over the development.
The letter partly stated: “It is sad and very painful that EEDC in Umuahia has for several years failed to supply electricity to the estate, thereby subjecting the area to enormous sufferings.
“The criminal and worse aspect of all is that EEDC will shamelessly come with outrageous bills at the end of the month and insist we must pay by coercion and intimidation.”
It warned the company to henceforth stop bringing any bills to the estate, saying it would use any legal available means to address EEDC’s injustice.
The association, comprising mainly retired public servants, threatened to take their matter to the streets of Umuahia soon, if nothing was done urgetly to end their plight.
Efforts made by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to get the company’s reaction to the allegations through cellphone calls and text messages yielded no reasonable response.
However, Mr Emeka Eze, the Manager, Communications Department of EEDC, in a text message response, stated: “I have requested for reaction from my collegaues in Umuahia.
“Yet to hear from them and will revert once I get it.”