EEDC Promise adequate prepaid meters soon, call on customers to always take compliants to appropriate channels
The Head, of Corporate Communications, Enugu Distribution Company, (EEDC) recently granted audience to Nigerian Notch, in his office at Enugu, where he highlighted on the efforts, being made by the company to enable steady power supply in the South East.
*Why do many customers find it hard to give feedback to your company and how is this being addressed?*
We have created many channels through which our customers can reach help inform us about their concerns and we work towards addressing those concerns if they are properly channelled. We try as much as we can to open our doors to customers, because, they are the main reason why we are here. Without our customers, we have no business being here. So, any challenge they have should is of immense concern to us. But we also require them to use the established channels to lodge these complaints. Most of them will tell you that they have reported the issues they are having with us, and most times these reports are not appropriately channelled. There are people dedicated to receive and document customers’ complaints and escalate same to the appropriate quarters; but if one takes such complaints to the wrong person, there is every tendency that such complaint will not be addressed. Recently, we used to have customer service representatives at the district offices; but now, we have expanded the scope and now have them also at the service centers,which is nearer to our customers. We have also dedicated a 24/7 call center where customers can call and lodge their complaints via 084700100, and also an e-mail platform customerservice@enugudisco. com, to make it easier and convenient for our customers. We also have active social media handles which are active and responsive, where customers can get us to lodge their complaints, which will enable us take appropriate action and as well provide feedback to them on there compliants. We can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter via @enugudisco and on Instagram via @enugu_disco. As you can see, these are channels through which customers can reach us. They can also do us formal letters for documentation purposes, as we always encourage customers to do us letters, as they can be used as references to trace the history of the difficulty they may be having with our services.
*What efforts is your company making to ensure that all your customers get prepaid meters?*
I want to assure you that, we are making frantic efforts towards making sure that all our customers are metered in no distant time and efforts are also being made to increase the number of customers that will be metered. Hopefully, by the end of April this year, we expect to have connected a good number of our customers, who before now are not metered.
It is also important to state that the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has given us access loans to enable us acquire these prepaid meters, which our customers will get soon. It is an on-going exercise and we are pushing to make sure that the target is met in no distant time. It is an exercise that is moving on fine, and once the meters are out, there won’t be any case of estimated billing anymore. Remember that those on the threshold of estimated billing platform, are those customers that are not metered, but are enjoying the services we offer. if you enjoy a service, somehow, you have to pay, and we have a guide on how we bill customers on that threshold, which is mutual. EEDC is optimistic that by the time we are through with the mass metering exercise, customers under the estimated billing platform will no longer exist. We hope that the Federal Government will also support us through this project, because, the number of meters available at the moment, are not enough to close the metering gap in the South East, which is the jurisdiction we cover.
Are there challenges faced by EEDC in servicing customers in the rural areas?
Yes of course. Going by the landmass we cover, we find it hard reaching to the hinterlands on time, not that we don't reach them, but due to the poor attitude towards payment of electricity bills, sometimes it sets us back in meeting up with our financial obligations to these customers, who more or less think that electricity is free. These customers find it difficult to pay for services provided by EEDC. They enjoy good and quality services, but the income from the rural area cannot sustain the services we provide for them. This is a major concern. Even for some of them that have bulk meter in place that records their energy consumption, we still find them not meeting up with their payments.
*How many customers have gotten Pre paid EEDC meters.*
We are not very sure of the exact number. However, we have started customer enumeration exercise, which will in turn help us identify our customer base and those that have already gotten the prepaid meters We know that a lot of people are using our services, but we realize that only a few pay for the services. What the customer enumeration exercise will do is to help us identify these individuals that are in the network. It will also help us in deploying resources and embarking on some network expansion projects. Under this customer enumeration exercise, we will capture our customers, both individuals and organizations. We will also capture the infrastructure serving them. Do note that every customer and building has a unique identification number. And there are also some other applications that we’re already putting in place that would ease the process of getting to these customers and identifying what their issues are from a remote end. So, I will say that the customer enumeration exercise is helping us address this issue of head count you are talking about.
*Despite efforts by your company to improve on its services, customers still complain. What is the reason behind it?*
We are tackling the problems they complain about, by providing up-to-date facilities to address these issues. There are lots of network expansion projects that was commissioned some time ago. We have many projects identified in the network; some of them have been awarded; some of them delivered, and customers are currently enjoying the benefits of these investments. In the area of transformers, we have procured hundreds of units of different ratings, to help address issues of failed transformers and overloaded transformers. We are also doing re-conducting and upgrading of our lines to get them deliver reliable power to our customers.
Is your company facing any problem in the process of distributing prepaid meters in the South East?
Yes, we face the problem of funding. It is also difficult for us to get loans from the bank, because, there is no bank that can advance loans to us as an enterprise. That makes it difficult for us to source funds from anywhere. The only source of revenue for us is from the electricity we market and distribute, but such income has not been adequate for us to be in this business. We also face the problem of time. If we have funds for the project, we equally need time to do the job. There are some processes that would take place before any meter leaves the company or office. If these things are established, the meter can then leave for installation. If there is no communication, the meter cannot leave.
Is there any hope for Nigeria to get constant electricity?
Yes, there is hope for constant electricity. Some of the countries having regular power supply, if you look at their population, it is not even up to the population of Imo State. Do note, that our electricity consumption capacity cannot be compared to those countries. But there is hope that Nigeria will get to the era and stage where it will start to enjoy regular and uninterrupted power supply. What Nigerians need is to be sincere with ourselves. Most of these countries you see having uninterrupted power supplies are patriotic to a very large extent, as they pay their bills; they do not tamper with their electricity installations.
But in Nigeria, we record cases of vandalism. We record cases of people using electricity but not paying for services. A lot of factors are working against us in Nigeria. Until we come to terms with ourselves and agree to do things the way we supposed to, we will continue to have issues with power supply.