CARE Solidarises With Isolo Community; Demands an end to Loadshedding and Overbilling
Residents of Isolo axis of Lagos, comprising Metropolitan College Road, Onawale Street, Ayanlu Street and its environs has been subjected to 2 days on and 1 day off electricity supply arrangement in the past 8 years. Due to this load-shedding policy, electricity supply to the community is abysmally poor as residents do not get up to 5 hours electricity daily.
The community residents are also protesting the fraudulent and outrageous electricity bills issued based on unfounded and unjustifiable estimations. Many of the residents complained that bills issued to an account is usually as high as N30,000 monthly. Ikeja Electric has refused to issue prepaid meters to all residents in order to perpetuate the outrageous estimated billing.
Following a protest calling for an end to load shedding, Ikeja officials recklessly removed the fuse from the transformer on August 25, 2021 and put the whole community in darkness. The community convoked a mass meeting on Saturday August 28, 2021 to discuss the best form of response to the darkness imposed on the community, the continued poor electricity supply and outrageous and fraudulent billing. The National Coordinator (Chinedu Bosah) and National Secretary (Shoyombo Monsuru) of the Coalition for Affordable Electricity actively participated in the meeting in solidarity. The meeting agreed amongst others to deepen the mobilization in the community and to other community, produce mobilization materials, organize more meetings, organize rallies and protest to Ikeja Electric offices etc.
The community residents stood their ground and Ikeja Electric was forced to reinstall electricity on August 30, 2021 and agreed to find a solution to the transformer through upgrade of their transformer and end load shedding by September 30, 2021. This deadline to fix the transformer problem was violated by Ikeja Electric as load shedding lingers till this present moment.
The exploitation and extortion going on in Isolo communities is not fundamentally different from what obtains in most communities across the country. The privatization policy has failed woefully, the power companies are only efficient in forcing consumers to pay for electricity that was not consumed. Since the power sector was privatized in November 2013, electricity supply has gone from bad to worse while government has constantly bailout the power companies to the tune of N2trillion. Outrageous estimated billing and high tariff rate have made electricity bill to be so high to the extent that bills to many poor households is N30,000 and above.
The recent electricity tariff hike by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) further confirms that the power companies and the capitalist government are in an unholy alliance to exploit the working masses. Electricity tariff has been hiked by more than 260% in the last 18 years with little or no improvement in living conditions.
CARE calls on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to lead the working masses in a mass struggle to demand reversal of privatization and massive investment in the power sector. Public ownership of the power sector must go side by side with democratic management and control by the working masses, this is the only way human and material resources will be best managed to guarantee regular and affordable electricity.