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SMEs owners storm Eko Disco, protest against poor electricity supply

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Energy theft: Eko DisCo launches ‘Operation Name and Shame’OWNERS of Small and Medium Scale enterprises under the aegis of Association of Shop Owners, Sura Complex on Lagos Island, on Wednesday stormed the premises of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) in Marina in protest against poor and erratic power supply, demanding that they were resolved henceforth to sourcing power from an Independent Power Project (IPP) and no longer ready to do business with EKEDC.

The aggrieved business owners led by their chairman, Mrs Bunmi Ann Ajayi, came in fully loaded buses, carrying placards with inscriptions such as: “Sura Association say no to EKEDC, we want IPP,” “Stop EKEDC exploitation, IPP come to rescue us,” “We are tired of epileptic power supply, EKEDC stop disrupting our businesses,” FG save our businesses, give us IPP,” “Uninterrupted power supply is an illusion under EKEDC,” among others.

The protesters, who gathered at the entrance of the disco to display their anger through various songs, lamented that through the epileptic power supply from EKEDC, the over 1,000 shops in the shopping complex had virtually become empty as many business owners had left due to the collapse of their businesses.

Speaking with newsmen, chairman of the association, Mrs Ajayi, confirmed this and further lamented that EKEDC lacked what is called customer service but was only interested in forcing her members to pay their “outrageous” electricity bills or be disconnected.

“We are here because we are on protest to Eko Disco. We are small business people and electricity supply is so crucial to our businesses.

“In Sura Business Complex, we have over 1,000 shops but if you come to the business complex now, the complex is half occupied because people have been going out as there is no power to actually do business. It is a multi-purpose business community where you have printers, where you have people in production and service industry so we have people who need a constant and regular power supply,” she said.

“We realise that in Eko Disco, there is actually nothing like customer service. The only thing we get from Eko Disco is to pay your bill, if you have outstanding, you have to pay or you are disconnected, that is the only conversation we have with Eko Disco in terms of explaining to them that how come we have 2 or 3hours of power supply or some days we don’t have power supply at all. There is actually no solution to that,” Ajayi lamented.

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Ajayi disclosed that now her members had resolved to sign an undertaking with a company engaged in IPP based on the non-resolution of the problem and the need to move forward, saying, “we now need an alternate power supply.”

“In fact, we have gotten a company to do that for us but we got to know through a particular publication that they (Eko Disco) don’t want that, that it is like a threat to their business and we said please you have created a vacuum and a company has actually come to fill that vacuum.

“So let us be, we are business people, we are not politicians, we are just business people ready to do our jobs and do them well. But we need regular, constant supply of electricity.

The shop owners’ chairman contended that her members had right to “regular, constant and uninterrupted” power supply, which had been denied them by EKEDC for years, demanding that now they should be allowed to sign on a new entity that could supply just that, warning that Eko Disco should not see itself as a monopoly.

“Our demand is that we want to be allowed to move our entity to a new company, they shouldn’t be a clog in the will of our progress. We want to move along with the new company. For us, they are like a monopoly,” Ajayi.

Also speaking, the assistant financial secretary of the association, Kayode Okunola, maintained that Eko Disco had no monopoly, according to the law of the land, saying that his members were now ready to do business with any company that was ready to distribute to them uninterrupted power supply.

“We don’t want anybody to use their powers from above to stop us. We are law-abiding citizens that’s why we are here. We know what to do to deter them (Eko Disco) from coming to our complex but we don’t want to do that, we are not going to do that, we are civil,” Okunola said.

While addressing the protesters, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Eko Electricity Distribution Plc, Adeoye Fadeyi, said the issues at stake that led to the disconnection of the customers could be resolved through dialogue.

This was just as he promised that the shopping complex would be immediately reconnected while the company would find time to resolve the other issues at stake.

“We have found out that you have been disconnected, and I have tried to get the specifics of when, how and under what circumstances and what really happened.

“’We are law-abiding organisation and operate in an industry that is regulated and I thank you for maintaining law and order, you have the right to come here today and protest peacefully and understand exactly what we are doing about your power,” he said.

Adeoye, however, said Eko Electricity was fully cooperative and would engage the leaders of Association of Shop Owners of Sura Shopping Complex in a robust discussion to resolve the problem.

“For us, there are issues that are in court as you know which obviously I cannot speak about the details of it. There is no intent on the part of Eko Electricity and I speak on behalf of the Board and management to create undue stress or put pressure on you the customers. There are a lot of issues and one of the things we would do right away is to make sure you are reconnected while we deal with the issues on the ground,” he said.

The post SMEs owners storm Eko Disco, protest against poor electricity supply appeared first on Tribune.

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