Festac residents protest two-month power outage – politics – nigeria hp gas kushaiguda phone number

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Senior citizens in FESTAC Town, Lagos joined other aggrieved resi­dents recently to protest a two-month power outage in the area. The resi­dents also lamented the arbitrary increase in their monthly electricity bill, coupled with the failure of the company to provide them with pre-paid metres.

The protesters defied the presence of a police patrol team and an early morning rain and marched to the office of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) at 23 Road, S Close, with their complaints, demanding a reversal of the outrageous billing and immedi­ate installation of pre-paid metres believed to be more customer-friendly. They accused the EEDC staff of rolling out estimated bills.

The residents carried several placards with inscriptions like: ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘God hates darkness’, “Pre-paid metre is the solution’, ‘Save our soul in FESTAC’, Don’t kill us with crazy bill’ and others even as they sang songs and barricaded the entrance to the company.

Although the protest was largely peaceful, the residents lamented the N50,000 cost of pre-paid metres imposed on them by the company. The elderly ones reeled out their disappoint­ments with the services of the company, just as the youths threatened fire and brimstone against the company.

Fuming with rage, Alaba Ayodele, a resident in the area, said the company had turned them to cash cows with their outrageous bills, even when the area had been in darkness for the pas t two months. He said several requests made to the company to provide residents with pre-paid metres to checkmate arbitrary billing were deliberately ignored.

“The situation has been so bad. In Decem­ber, people go away from FESTAC for the holidays and we normally enjoy light. But after December, we have not had it easy at all. For weeks, we have been sleeping on the balconies, and our children sleep on the corridors because of the heat. The bills we receive are not what we consumed at all. The old metres are not being read but they kept bringing the bill,” she said .

“If you look round, majority of the people here are senior citizens. At their prime age, they are supposed to be resting. It is ungodly to bring out senior citizens out to protest. It is only in Nigeria that you see this kind of thing. It is very, very sad and appalling”, he said.

Fakorede said they would take the protest further to the Lagos, Marina office of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company until their grievances were addressed. He insisted that pre-paid metres must be installed in the entire FESTAC area, without any charge as obtain­able in Ikeja and other parts of the country.

Another resident, Ijeoma Mozie, recalled in anger how she paid N21,000 for a pre-paid metre in 2007 into a holding account, regretting that till date, nothing was given to her. She also parted with additional N5000 for the installa­tion at the power holding office.

“Last year, I brought the documents to the Senior Marketing Manager here. He opened the system and told me that the pre-paid metre had accumulated a total bill of N65,000. I asked him how the bill came since the com­pany was yet to give me the metre. He said they would stop the bill and asked me to bring additional N40,000. I left him and I have not gone to them since then,” she explained.

“We are Nigerians. We are part of you. Your complaints have been noted. I have also communicated our management as soon as I saw you. The Public Relations Officer of the Company has also been informed and he would address all the requests you have made,” she said.F

Frustrated by the epileptic power supply and high electricity bills supplied to their area by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company in recent times, residents of FESTAC, a government established housing estate in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, took to the streets last week Friday to protest the development.

Gathered as early as 8:30am, the aggrieved residents marched peacefully with placards in hands screaming for justice. The residents, cutting across different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds, made their way to the premises of the EKEDC located on 23 Road, S Close, to explain their frustrations.

Top on the minds of the protesters were the issue of prolonged power outage and high electricity bills, referred to as ‘crazy bills’. Also, the protesters expressed their displeasure with alleged demand for outrageous fees by staff of the company for the installation of pre-paid metres which ordinarily should be free.

Lamenting a N50, 000 fee for pre-paid metres imposed on them by the company, residents who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, slammed the EKEDC staff for forcing estimated bills running into around N20, 000 down their throats without visiting their homes to take metre readings.

Alhaja Yakubu, 72, who also joined in the protest, told Saturday PUNCH that the EKEDC had deprived them of rest in their old age through constant outage and high bills. According to her, the situation is making life miserable for households and individuals, including children.

“For several weeks now we have been sleeping on the balconies, while the children sleep on the corridors because of the heat. The bills we get from the power company are far higher than the supply we get. These people don’t read the old metres but keep bringing crazy bills. We’re tired of this.”

“Last year, I brought the documents to the Senior Marketing Manager here; he opened the system and told me that the pre-paid metre had accumulated a total bill of N65, 000. I asked him how the bill came about when I was yet to get the metre. All he said was that they would stop the bill and that I should bring additional N40, 000. I left his office frustrated and had not returned there since,” she said.

President, Festival Town Residents Association, Shola Fakorede, told Saturday PUNCH that several appeals made to the EKEDC to address their grievances in the past had not yielded any positive outcome. He revealed that the situation had become critical, hence the need to cry out to the world and relevant authorities to address the issues.

He said, “If you look round, majority of the people here are senior citizens. At the age they are now, they are supposed to be resting. It is unfair to bring out senior citizens out to protest. It is only in Nigeria that you see this kind of thing. It is very, very sad and appalling.

“People are being ripped off. Senior citizens that are supposed to be enjoying the fruit of their labour are losing their hard earned money in payment for services that are not rendered. They are using the pensions that do not come regularly to pay bills. Nothing explains why residential homes should be given bills of N30, 000, N20, 000 and so on. We are going to resist this rip-off by ever means.”

“We are Nigerians. We are part of you. Your complaints have been noted. I also communicated to our management your grievances soon as I saw you. The Public Relations Officer of the company has also been informed and he would address all the requests you have made,” she said.

“There was no protest to our office as you claim. As a matter of fact there is a town hall meeting going now in FESTAC. Mr. Ogunlusi and three other people came to our office to submit a petition on the current power situation as it affects them,” he said.

Fakorede who was at the town hall meeting on Friday, told Saturday PUNCH as at press time that discussion was still ongoing and that an agreement had not been reached between both parties. The town hall meeting is a fall-out of last week’s protest by the residents.