Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Everywhere in Kaduna state and environs, there are one and too many complaints against Kaduna Electric Company, KAEDCO. These complaints range from over billings, tariff increment, arbitrary charges, grazing and estimated billing, as well as hate disconnections, leading to series of protest and attack on Kaduna electric staffs.
From Trikaniah to Gonin-Gora of Kaduna environs and all over the state, the people are bitterly complaining of trump-up charges with little or no attention from the company. Of more recent and worrisome is the community of Ungwan Boro in Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South where electricity bills continue to be the steady increase unabatedly in some of the bills made available to journalist by some residents.
Just yesterday (Sunday), a complaint piece married with a statement came from one Luka Binniyat, a resident of U/Boro, with lamentation that, “My dear colleague, Sir, I understand the challenges you are facing as KEPC. As one of the founding reporters that closely reported the Energy sector up to the Electric Power Reform Act 2005, which led to the formation of the NERC, I advice that you do not dare ASUU into a media brawl.
“The NERC Acts puts your company at too much liability for so much services infractions, which luckily for your company, 99% of your customers don’t know. The few that know have no means of enforcing redress. What has happened to the MYTO? That, within a month, my bill from 2k, I’m told to pay 10k for November?,” he stated, in a statement made available to journalists in Kaduna on Monday.
He continued that, “On Dec 15, 2018, 14:07, Assistant Manager cooperate affairs, Kaduna Electric, Idris Muhammad, email@example.com, wrote: Re: Collective Punishment on the People of Zaria City and its Environs by Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company.
According to Luka, the statement, signed by Head, Corporate Communication, Abdul Azeez Abdullahi, reads in parts: “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement purportedly issued by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ABU chapter, on 14th December, 2018, with the above caption, in which the Union accused Kaduna Electric of, among other things, ‘collective punishment’ of electricity users in Zaria City and its environs. Nothing could be factually incorrect and misleading than these baseless and unfounded allegations.
“It is instructive to note that in our Zaria Regional Office, we have 1009 distribution transformers, and the disconnection of defaulters was carried out in 234 DTs, less than one quarter of the DTs in the Region. But unfortunately, the ASUU officials rushed to press giving a wrong and malicious impression that the entire Zaria City and its environs were plunged into darkness.
“Nothing could be further from the truth as there are millions of people and hundreds of communities within and outside Zaria City, who have paid their current charges, are currently enjoying the service of the company.
“It is equally worthy of note that in the month of October, 2018, alone, the affected customers/communities consumed electricity worth over N450m, but sadly, only about N45m (less than 10% of the cost of energy supplied) was realized by the Company from these customers.
“This prompted the Company to issue notices of withdrawal of service to the defaulting customers. Some of these customers responded positively and paid their current charges before the expiration of the notice, and are currently enjoying the service, while those that failed to meet the minimum threshold were disconnected. How then does withdrawal of service from perpetual defaulters amount to ‘collective punishment?’
“It is equally pertinent to state here that Kaduna Electric has never – and will never – punish anybody in the course of its business. The service of the Company was only withdrawn from the affected customers/communities after painstaking processes of engagement, consultations and notices of service withdrawal served.
“To further confirm our commitment to mutual beneficial relationship with our customers, 12 communities have had their power supply restored as at yesterday (Friday), 14th December after paying their October billing with 5 others reconnected after paying about 72% percent of their October billing with an undertaking to offset the balance within a week.
“It is quite regrettable that, ASUU, ABU chapter – a supposedly body of intelligentsia and brightest minds in our society – will resort to cheap blackmail, malicious mudslinging and deliberate miss-representation of facts without even giving Kaduna Electric the benefits of fair hearing.
“What happened to the elementary and basic principle of natural justice that demands that fair hearing should always be given to all parties in a dispute? The ASUU officials that issued the Press statement cannot claim ignorance of this principle; neither could they claim that the Company is inaccessible.
“This and the accusation by the ASUU that, we are ‘agents of predator capitalism’ put to question the motive of the University teachers and give credence to our suspicion that the motive was anything but altruistic.
“Our take here is that, if the ASUU have anything against private ownership of business ventures, they should tell Nigerians that they are against people owning property/business, rather than being the hunting dogs of some hidden forces. The Union undoubtedly stands to lose whatever is left of its credibility, if it continues this needless proxy war.
“We therefore appeal to the general public to dismiss and disregard all the incitive and provocative advocacy of the ‘ASUU,’ as the rantings of a body whose only stock-in-trade is the collective punishment of the entire citizenry on the slightest excuse.
“Perhaps, their conscience has now denied them the much-needed sleep and restful days; hence, their fruitless search for an imaginary enemy. In fairness to the academic community in ABU, we have discovered that the press statement was the handiwork of handful members of the Union, who acted on their own volition, without consultation or recourse to the Congress.