Starting in November 2014, I continually lamented the failure of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to provide power in the Estate where I reside. About 3 weeks into the power outage, we decided to give the gen a rest and moved to Jos for the holidays especially as the AEDC technicians had mentioned that if they could not repair the fault by December 23rd, the components for fixing will not arrive until January 2015.
Ten days into the power outage, I had written letters of complaint to the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). While we were away, we learned there were frantic efforts to restore the power on December 25 with more than 20 Engineers sweating it out as someone’s job was probably on the line. They did get it fixed eventually.
Fast forward to January 2015, AEDC shows up with an estimate for December; with a 15% increase over the November bill I had complained about! And with a disconnection threat to boot. I was mad because there was power for just 7 days at best. In going through the resources on the NERC website www.nercng.org last month, I had learnt that the first point of complaint should be the Distribution Company’s Customer Care desk.
I picked up the bill and called the telephone numbers listed for complaints, stated my case with all the details of previous months’ billing, gave my account number and the courteous lady on the phone promised to pass the complaint to the billing section. She however advised that I visit the Area office as well to register my complaint.
When I complained about the crazy bill at the Area Office, I was told that no customer made an official complaint about the month-long power outage so there was no way they could have known. I was shocked because there is a so-called Residents Association whose sole function to my knowledge is collection of dues for “security”. I guess like the other 200 or so residents, everyone else assumed “ahn ahn, someone must have gone to make a complaint after so many days of outage”. As far as AEDC was concerned, the bill had been issued and we had to pay or face disconnection.
I refused to be deterred so I printed and distributed flyers that were distributed to every house that was affected in my estate. The flyer simply urged people to lend their voices to complain about the exploitation and provided telephone, email and physical addresses for the AEDC Area Office, NERC and CPC.
Just some minutes ago (less than 48 hours after rallying the neighborhood), one of my neighbours who went to the AEDC Area Office to complain just told me the Area Office has received a circular from the Head Office saying the December bill is to be reduced by 50% for affected customers. It’s a start but it is not enough. NERC has to be compelled to create a guideline that requires Distribution Companies to adjust their estimates whenever power is clearly not delivered for several days (in locations where they have not provided meters).
The moral of the story is that if we all demand good service or good governance rather than accepting that the system is already rotten, things can be turned around for the better. When I was raking at NEPA (i prefer that name) last Friday, the Customer Service officer tried to prove to me that the best that could happen is a refund of my 700 naira service fee and I said it was unacceptable.
If you are facing terrorism by the Electricity company in your area, you too can start from the resources below. This is for Abuja but your can get contacts for other regions at http://www.nercng.org/index.php/consumer-affairs/consumer-forum
Call the AEDC Head Office (Crazy Bills, No Meter after payment, Power outage for days, etc) Phone: 0815 019 1919, 0815 018 1818
Submit official written complaint at the AEDC Area Office
Submit official written complaint at the NERC Consumer Forum:
Address: No.14, Road 131, Gwarinpa, Abuja
Call on Phone: 08146862225
Send Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit official written complaint at Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission
Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission
Plot 1099, First Avenue,
Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central Business District, Abuja
Submit official written complaint at Consumer Protection Council
The Director General,
Consumer Protection Council
Plot 1105 Dar-es-Salaam Street,
Off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II
Phone: 0700 225 5272, 0805 600 2020, 0805 600 3030
Always have your most recent AEDC Account Number and other accurate facts ready. Be polite when making your complaints. Do not make illegal connections. Do not bypass Electricity meters to save costs; someone else has to pay for it.