This is a clear example of what happens when “leaders” in government lack the insight and compassion as well as common sense requisite for policy formulation and execution.
I live in Opebi, Ikeja Lagos. My monthly PHCN energy bill ranges from 2,300 naira to 3,500 naira (with the new energy tariff regime). I’m single, have few electronic gadgets and spend more of my time outside my house on weekdays. This explains why I have managed to maintain a fairly low tariff on my electricity bills.
So you can imagine my disbelief upon finding out that my bill read 16,000 naira for the month of October. My initial assessment was that it must have been human error by the person who read my meter. I went to the PHCN office on Ikosi Road, Oregun and lodged a complaint
I spoke with the both the marketing manager and the woman who reads my meter and was shocked to find out that the reason for the outrageous bill I was served was due to a new PHCN policy. The policy states or rather assumes that no individual can use less that 200 units of energy per month. In the event that this occurs, it must mean that the individual or household has tampered with the meter. The penalty for this (whether one is guilty or not) is to be slapped with a16,000 naira flat rate equivalent to about 1200 energy units of electricity!
It doesn’t matter whether you have one fridge or no TV set. It doesn’t matter if you do not have air conditioning sets or no electric cookers. It doesn’t matter whether you travel for three weeks on vacation with your family. It doesn’t even matter if the transformer has a fault. Once the energy unit reads 200 or less, you must be a thief and a scoundrel cheating the government.
Of course I tried to make a case by showing my bill payments from February to date which amounted to an average of about 3,000 naira per month. It was saddening to realise that no one could offer any satisfactory response or even empathize with me. All they could say was this: “just pay the bill and apply for the installation of the digital meter”.
The problem remains unresolved and I am faced with the stack reality of another 16,000 naira bill in November. Going by my average monthly energy consumption, I’m definitely in big trouble! It is wrong for PHCN to force me to pay for power I did not consume.
I tried to fill out the forms for the digital meters and the forms were not even available. And if it were, it could take ages to be installed. And while I wait, 16,000 naira electric bills would be forced down my throat except I decide to live in darkness.
Another option I may employ is to leave all my fans and lights on through the day, every day, whether I’m in or not. This may help push my monthly consumption to above 200 units of energy!
It is not fair for me to pay over 14,000 naira extra than I should every month for electricity. The fact that somebody somewhere behind a desk thought this policy out without considering that some people may by choice use less electricity is lunacy. This is a stupid policy at best and people with such unintelligent approach to issues should not be allowed to roam free let alone be policy makers.
I want to use this medium to ask anyone out there for help. If you know anyone who can correct this anomaly or can lend expert legal advice on what I should do about this matter, please do contact me.