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Sunday, May 26, 2024

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Electricity Consumers in Awka Protest Against Phase-Out of EEDC Unistar Meters

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…. Demand replacement of meters without new payment

…. Reject estimated  billing

By Ndu Chris Nwannah, Awka Times Guest Writer

Protests have continued to trail the decision by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to phase out the Unistar prepaid meters.

The EEDC had in a statement made by its Head of Communications, Mr Emeka Ezeh, announced the stoppage of vending credits through the Standalone prepaid meters also known as Unistar meters by January 1, 2020.

This measure brought it in conflict with customers who had trooped to Awka and other district offices in the South East geopolitical zone to recharge their Unistar meters.

The situation threw numerous homes and offices into darkness and confusion as they had to depend for long periods on fuel energy, which invariably increased the expenses they made on sourcing electricity. For many, food, meat and other items stored in freezers became defrosted, leading to huge economic losses.

These had led to outbreak of protests in EEDC districts, including Onitsha, where customers in Omagba lamented the untold hardship suffered as a result of the phase out of Unistar meters.

Also, following the commencement of its implementation, hundreds of electricity consumers in Awka have taken to the streets to express their disenchantment with the decision.

The protesters marched from Ndichie Square, Umudioka Village to Nkwo Amenyi through Zik Avenue to EEDC Awka office which was heavily guarded by security personnel.

The protesters who carried placards with such inscriptions as “EEDC we are not happy”, “EEDC we need light”, also reached Amawbia before returning to Ndichie Hall Umudioka, Awka.

One of the protesters, reportedly a human rights activist, Comrade Osita Obi, described the current action by EEDC as unfortunate and called for the federal government’s intervention to stop the plan.

Comrade Obi however stressed that if the Unistar meters were to be removed, EEDC should install immediate replacements at no cost to consumers.

He lamented the migration of prepaid consumers to estimated billing, which he claimed was obnoxious and retrogressive.

The organizer of the protest, Chief Aiza Nwosu, stated that consumers had suffered untold hardship due to the inability to recharge their prepaid meters as most of them had remained in darkness.

Another protester, Chief Obiora Okigbo, alleged that EEDC embarked on the programme to shortchange its customers, stressing that it was a great disservice.

On his part, a political and community leader, Comrade Ugochukwu Nwimoh, called on EEDC to exhibit customer friendliness and apply responsibility to issues affecting electricity consumers in the South East zone.

EEDC had in a new statement claimed that the phase out of the standalone meters would affect very few customers, numbering about 40,000 out of over 400,000 (10%) already using prepaid meters.

It also alleged that EEDC had started replacing such meters and offering customers ample time to pay for them over a period of 24 months, a statement which the protesting consumers denied.

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