From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
Electricity consumers in parts of Makurdi, the Benue state, have decried the high estimated monthly bills being charged by the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JEDC.
The aggrieved consumers who lamented that the monthly bills from JED, in the last few months, have gone beyond their means, urged regulatory agencies to wade in and address the matter.
Some residents, who narrated what they said is becoming a nightmare, told newsmen on Tuesday, that in the last five month, they have noticed sudden and continuous increase with their monthly bills going from N7,000 to N15,000 to N20,000 and N25,000 for some and from N17,000 to as high as high as N28,000.
Speaking to our correspondent, a resident of George Akume Road, Joseph Tarr, who resides in a one room apartment said “at the beginning of the year 2022, I was paying N4,000 monthly. By June, they increased the bill to about N9,000; some were billed N14,000. We complained and they promised to address the issue saying that the charges came from Jos where they have their head office.
“But instead of addressing the issue as promised, the bills I have been receiving in the last four months have been around N28,000 and some were charged as high as N32,000. How do they expect anyone to pay that kind of bill?
“And if you ask for prepaid meters which we learnt should be given free to consumers, they insist that you must pay to get one. It is a terrible situation because we are now at the mercy of the distribution company as if no organisation is monitoring their activities.”
Another resident who didn’t want to be named said her bills also kept increasing from the initial N5000 as at May, 2021 to N17,000 three months after, saying she was charged the sum of N27,000 as at November, 2022.
“I’m only able to pay part of this monthly bills and the rest keep accumulating. What we are charged is way too high than what we consume and I think the government should look into our plight,” she said.
Also, Sonter Teryila who lives in a two room apartment in the High Level area of the town said “this JED people in the last three months have been charging me almost N30,000 monthly. When the bills come, we usually complain and they will promise to address it but the following month they bring you something higher than the former.
“This is a clear exploitation. We noticed that these bills started coming after their offices were locked up by the Benue Internal Revenue Service, BIRS, over the backlog of unpaid taxes. There is no justification for this except they are now telling us that electricity is not for the poor.”
When contacted, the Business Manager JED Makurdi office, Mr. Joseph Kwaghgba said, “several factors are responsible for the high bills and it includes the slight increase in the tariff. There is also a huge increment in power availability and consumption in Makurdi.
“We were consuming just about 13 megawatts in Makurdi in the time past, but now the consumption has gotten to almost 22,000 megawatts. And what it means is that the more the usage the more the charges.
“There is tremendous improvement in power supply and we are doing almost 18 to 20 hours power supply and sometimes 24 hours. The implication is that the more you enjoy supply, the higher the bill paid.”
As a solution, Kwaghgba advised that consumers who can, should migrate to prepaid billing to manage their consumption ” so that this issue of over billing will be laid to rest.”