Residents of New London Estate in Baruwa, Ipaja, Lagos, at the weekend trooped to the corporate headquarters of Ikeja Electric to protest alleged poor treatment of the community by the electricity distribution company. The residents, who arrived in four Coastal buses, had many placards protesting several months of insipid power supply amidst outrageous bills.
Some of the placards read: 'We are tired of Your Empty Promises,' '12 Years of Inadequate Power Supply: Our Mumu Don Do,' 'We bought transformers, bought and erected concrete poles and aluminum conductors, including uprisers and feeder pillars yet, you have refused to come and do the needful for us to enjoy regular power supply like other communities that have not done enough like the New London Estate.'
Speaking on their plight, New London Estate Community Development Association Chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Nzekwe, lamented that his community had written several letters to the company without any meaningful action on the matter.
"In the past 12 years, we have been going back and forth with nothing meaningful coming to us right from the era of PHCN till now that Ikeja Electric took over. For how long are we going to remain in this suffering?" queried the CDA chairman, who was accompanied by other members of his executive, including the secretary, Mr. Biodun Adeniran.
Brandishing a copy of the last petition the community wrote to Ikeja Electric's managing director, Mr. Nzekwe wondered why a community of over 1,500 houses is often left in total darkness.
"This is a copy of the last letter we wrote to Ikeja Electric's MD when both Ipaja and Ponle sub-stations were playing hide and seek with us. Our first 500 KVA transformer was donated by Hon. Bisi Yusuf, Lagos State House of Assembly member representing our constituency. It quickly got overloaded; before then PHCN brought another smaller 300KVA to support it.
"But due to delay in installing it, we began to have issues, leading to the first one to pack up. They eventually installed the smaller one and repaired the 500KVA. However, due to expansion and development in the community, there was need to have more transformers but nothing came. That was how we tasked ourselves to buy a third 500KVA transformers that took several months to install."
The CDA Chairman regretted that since the installation of that New London 3 transformer, Ikeja Electric staff had been playing games over the redistribution of houses using the two legs raised so far.
"They told us to buy and erect five new concrete poles to ensure the redistribution," he said. "We have done that since November last year. The poles are standing idle with two legs unused in that new transformer we bought through self-help. Yet majority of the estate residents continue to experience darkness."
Although two unidentified Ikeja Electric staff later invited the leadership of the New London Estate into their headquarters for dialogue on the way forward, the CDA chairman insisted that if nothing concrete came out of their protest, "We will ask Ikeja Electric to disconnect us from their power supply and stop bringing bills to us. We can no longer be paying for the light we did not consume."
The protest was supported by an advocacy group, Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE).