May 26, 2024

Power outage: Lagos community, Imowokekere protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

Etim Ekpimah

Women from the Progressive, West End and Peace & Unity Estate Community Development Associations (CDAs) in the Imowokekere area of Ikorodu Local Government Area, off Ijede Road, Lagos State, continue the 4-day Protests on Monday, 11 November 2023, over power outage in the communities for two months counting and the seizure of community transformer by the Ikeja Electric (IE) officials.

The women, who are at the IE Ijede Undertaking Office, Omitoro, Ijede Road, explained that tenants and landlords are leaving their communities in large numbers, adding that the trend has reduced their sales.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

Mrs Temitope Otusayo, Imowokekere, one of the protesting women, said they decided to hold the protests to voice out their grievances on the punishment IE has meted to the affected communities by depriving them of their rights since October 2023.

She said: “We want the management of IE to bring back our transformer; 97 per cent of the people living in the areas are using prepaid metres (516 prepaid metres) while 3 per cent (34 customers) are on postpaid. So, we don’t know where Madam Chidinma Okolo arrived at the amount she asked us to pay. She’s asking us to do 1 + 1 (payment of 2 months’ bills); we don’t understand why the spurious debts must be fully paid. We don’t understand her language in this circumstance.

“She billed us over N9,000,000. So, when we sat down with her and asked how she arrived at the figure, we noticed that she included ghost people who were not living in the communities and empty lands. She then reduced the money to over N5,000,000. And upon this amount, we still have people who have never connected to electricity, yet the woman was giving them bills of over N532,000. Mr Okolie Kenneth in Progressive CDA, who never connected to electricity was also billed.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

“Like me, I have a prepaid metre and I’m still receiving bills. Where are the bills coming out from when I have a prepaid metre? The November 2023 bill is out, and we have not been using electricity since October 14, 2023. This is why we have to gather here with a resolve not to allow them to work until all the issues are resolved. I’ve lost my voice; we have been protesting for the past three days; today is the fourth day of the protests.

“So, we will not relent until the state government and stakeholders that are involved attend to our case; we need our transformer back, even if the transformer is bad, let her bring it back. If they are willing to provide us with another transformer, we still need our transformer.”

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

She added that the communities have another transformer. She, however, explained that the IE is asking for payment of estimated debts before giving us a relief transformer. They did not care about the fact that it was the communities who bought the transformer, cables, and concrete poles, licensed contractors’ fees, among others.

According to her, the communities provided all the materials needed for the installation of the transformer, saying that the IE failed to recognise that they did not buy nor provide anything for the installation of the transformer.

She added that all the costs are borne by the communities as the Lagos State Government (LSG) supported the community with a grant-in-aid to install the Progressive CDA Mowokekere Transformer 4, in May 2019.

 “We have spent over N60,000,000 to procure transformers and every material needed to install and power the transformer,” she added.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

The Chairman of the Joint Imowokekere CDAs, Pst. Olalemi I and the Secretary, Comrade Bola-Balogun Ganiyu of the Joint Imowokekere CDAs comprising the 14 estates Ganiyu, who is also the chairman of Progressive CDA Imowokekere, said the women felt the IE ignored them thereby allowing the protest to reach the fourth day – Monday, October 11, 2023, at the Ijede Undertaking (IU), Omitoro’s Office.

It was also gathered that the 3 affected communities went to Ikeja Electric (IE) Headquarters, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State, today to protest the two months of darkness, after taking away the damaged community-installed SIEMENS Transformer 500kva/33kv.

According to him, the three CDAs have installed another ABB transformer 500kva/33kv (Imowokekere Transformer 5) at the Scholar area up to 95% completion as of October 10, 2023, unfortunately, the SIEMENS Transformer at Progressive CDA Mowokekere 4 Substation, packed-up on October 14, 2023, before it could be relieved.

That IE rejected the NERC’s order of Appeal No: IFO/1297/2017 to provide needed installation materials and energise the first community purchased ABB transformer 500kva/33kv to relieve the overloaded SIEMENS Transformer, which IE unqualified carpenters called engineers from the IBU tampered with that transformer in August 2019, causing an overnight’s oil leakage without topping up the oil level before it eventually got damaged.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

Bola-Balogun said, “The Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) ruled against IE on March 8, 2018, following the shutting down of Vono Imowokekere Transformer 2 and Alh. Williams Imowokekere Transformer 3:

“IE fails to freely provide and install mass prepaid meters for Progressive Estate CDA with over 700 customers within two weeks but IE metered only 47 customers in the whole Imowokekere.

“Refund 50% of crazy bills of September and October 2018 which is the only IE complied with

“Failure to provide needed materials and energise the abandoned ABB transformer donated by the 3 Estates.”

Comr. Bola-Balogun stated that IE further failed to provide 30% remaining materials to assist them in energising the ABB Transformer in August 2023 when the 3 Estates purchased 70% of needed materials until the SIEMENS Transformer damaged on October 14, 2023, which was forcefully taken away by the Ikorodu Business Unit (IBU) on October 23, 2023, though the OMC of Ijede Undertaking, Engr. Monsuru Owolabi.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

He said, “IE, through Ms Chidinma, the Ijede Undertaking and Marketing Manager, alongside the Marketer for Imowokekere, Mr Ismail Adewale, tormenting us to pay N5,394,808.73 for many unknown customers on estimated billings across the 3 CDAs, upon which almost N600,000 has been paid, as confirmed by Ms Okolo.

“It was after the women’s protest it was found out that IE doesn’t have plans for replacement transformer, yet they have been collecting money from members.”

Mrs. Lateef Odunayo and Mrs Rachael Orepekan, unanimously asked Ms Okolo to find a lasting solution to the communities’ transformer, noting that the suffering is excessive, especially as Nigeria is in dry season.

Ms Okolo, however, said she was on leave when the issues came up. She expressed regret that the matter had assumed that proportion.

Power outage: Communities protest at IE office with gas cylinder to cook

She pledged that two weeks before Christmas the transformer would be installed.

At today’s protest at the IE headquarters, Alausa, Ikeja, the IE promised the communities that another replacement relief transformer 500kva/33kv would be provided for the Progressive CDA Imowokekere Transformer 4 Substation on or before October 24, 2023 (two weeks).

It would be remembered that the same promise was emphasised by Ms Chidinma Okolo in the face of unrelenting women’s protests.

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