Vandalisation of electrical installations, prevalent in S’East
Mr Emeka Eze is the Public Relations Officer, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC). In this interview with BLESSING NNABUIFE, NKECHI IKENWOKE, he spoke on how vandalisation of electrical installations disrupts operations and the quality of service delivery to customers and their determination to transform the socio-economic landscape of the South East. Excerpts:
HOW would you rate the level of vandalisation of electrical installations in South East?
Vandalism of electrical installations is highly prevalent in the South East and it is a source of concern to our organisation as it not only disrupts operations and the quality of service delivery to our customers, but largely impacts on the revenue of the company.
This dastardly act ranges from cutting and stealing of armoured/intermediate cables, feeder pillar unit, draining of transformer oil, stealing of transformer coil, etc. Once these items are vandalised, the transformer becomes inactive and all the customers served by the transformer will be out of supply and inconvenienced pending when the vandalised items are replaced and power supply restored. During the period transformer is vandalised, the company will also be losing revenue as the affected customers will no longer be making any payment to the company.
What do you think could be the cause?
I think one can easily attribute it to the level of poverty in the land as people are struggling to make ends meet, but that is not a justification for anyone to vandalise a facility that is provided for the benefit of the larger community. It can also be attributed to sabotage. A situation where some individuals or groups are out to either frustrate the company or the customers, for reasons best known to them, but like I said, there is no justification for anyone to vandalise public property.
How do you think it can be stopped?
It will be very difficult for this to be stopped entirely, but it can definitely be minimised, and that can only happen when all stakeholders begin to see these electricity facilities as their own. There is need for that ownership attitude to be imbibed by everyone. That can be achieved when we all see those infrastructures as our own, watch over them and not allow vandals to attack them, knowing the inconveniences that will befall them once that happens. Customers need to be vigilant and demand the identity of whoever is seen working in the transformer and join hands with EEDC to ensure that these facilities are not vandalised.
A good number of electrical consumers have been waiting for prepaid metres. Who gets it? When and how is it distributed?
Every customer of EEDC (that is one that is in our database) that is not currently metered is entitled to be metered. The long years of neglect by the defunct NEPA and PHCN in the area of metering accounts for the wide metering gap that we (EEDC) inherited upon takeover.
However, efforts have been made to close this inherited metering gap, but that has been hampered by lack of funds. As a way of intervening and ensuring that the gap is closed, the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) by providing loan to the distribution companies through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to procure these meters and meter customers free of charge.
EEDC commenced the NMMP in January 2021, and in the “Phase O” of the metering program which provides us with 92,300 meters. So far, customers are being metered and about 68,000 customers have been metered, while effort is being made to wrap up this phase and move on to “Phase 1” which will allow us access to more meters.
The meter deployment is going on across the five South East states and the deployment is according to feeders and transformers. Customers do not need to do anything, once they belong to the feeders and transformers that are being metered, their meters will get to them. The meters are free, the same with its installation. Anyone that attempts to extort any customer should be reported through the established Whistle Blowing platform.
Don’t you think the frequent complaint of excessive billing by EEDC is connected to the public vandalisation of electrical installations?
I do not see how “excessive billing” can lead to vandalism. We have established channels through which aggrieved customers can lodge their complaints and it will be looked into and that has been working. So, customers are encouraged to take advantage of these channels and have their issues resolved. They can visit the Customer Service Unit at the District Office or Service Centre nearest to them.
Is there any expectation of improved performance by EEDC?
Of course, there are numerous network enhancement initiatives going on across the network aimed at delivering improved services to our customers. These projects include construction and upgrading of Injection Substations, construction and de-loading of feeders, relief of overloaded transformers, upgrading of conductors, etc. These are capital intensive projects embarked on by the company. Some have been completed and commissioned and the affected customers are already enjoying the benefits of these projects. Some of the projects are still ongoing and once completed, will be commissioned for the benefit of the customers.
Network expansion and enhancement are areas we are committed to as we strongly believe it is the only way we can satisfy our customers and at the same time, actualise our objective of transforming the socio-economic landscape of the South East.
All we ask for is the support of our customers by paying their energy bills and not engaging in activities like energy theft, meter bypass, vandalism, etc. that are capable of undermining the genuine efforts being made by EEDC to deliver enjoyable experience to its customers.