A civil organisation and residents of Akwa Ibom State have decried high estimated billing to customers by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC).
Clifford Thomas, rights activist and director, Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights and Development Advancement in Uyo said electricity distribution companies must ensure that all customers were metered so as to guarantee justice and fairness in the billing and pricing of electricity.
Mr Thomas, who spoke to reporters in Uyo on Tuesday, said PHEDC personnel in the state were deliberately refusing to supply meters to customers. He also accused the officials of the power distribution company of impunity, arrogance, and insensitivity to the feelings of customers.
He said PHEDC was taking undue advantage of the people to force high bills on them instead of providing them with prepaid meters to control their energy usage.
“PHEDC has been stealing from the people because they know the people don’t know their rights and very unfortunately the people themselves don’t want to fight for their rights.
“I can’t also tell if they are enjoying the suffering. How can someone who has been paying a bill of N6,500 before and suddenly PHEDC brought a bill of N45, 000 and you agree to pay, yet you are complaining.
“We have received several complaints and in the next two weeks, we are going to convene a stakeholders’ forum to address the issues.
“We are sending letters to the police, the DSS and many other groups and the management of PHEDC will be invited, the public should come out and air their grievances,” Mr Thomas said.
Patricia Inyang, a resident in Uyo, said estimated billing was a major problem that PHEDC must have to address.
She said the electricity company was giving her estimated bill of N7,500 monthly in a one-room apartment.
She appealed to the PHEDC to supply consumers with prepaid meters to avoid the outrageous billing.
Reacting to the complaints, the PHEDC said it had increased efforts to address many of the challenges faced by its customers regarding unavailability of prepaid meters, overbilling and epileptic power.
Chioma Aninwe, the acting manager, Corporate Communications, PHEDC said in addition to the Asset Provider Scheme, the company had also taken part in the National Mass Metering Programme to make prepaid meters available to customers.
“Our Systems Operation Unit is thereby constrained to proactively manage the available load to create a balance in the interim.
“Some of the challenges being faced are constraints from the transmission end which are not limited to infrastructural issues. Power supply will improve and stabilise as soon as these challenges are rectified,” she said.