… Collaborates with Community Media to Reach the Communities
In what seem to be a family meeting, the Corporate Communication team of Ikeja Electric Distribution Company (IE) led by Mr Felix Ofule with Mr Fidelix, Mr Ayeni and others had a maiden edition of media parley with Association of Practitioners of Community Media in Nigeria (APCOM) on Wednesday. The event which took place at the upper room of Yellow Chilies Restaurant and bar had members of the pen industry drawn from nooks and crannies of network coverage of IE.
The head of corporate communications of the energy company Mr Felix Ofulue hinted on the need for the collaboration which in his words, ought to have been held earlier before now but for some logistics. He however noted that it is better late than never while reiterating that having understood the roles of the community media especially for a peculiar outfit such as IE, it is paramount to nurture a forum such as this for mutual benefits.
The aim of the meeting was to partner the community media in disseminating information to their various communities with the understanding of some of the usual challenges faced with customers and ways of achieving possible solutions to them. The issue of pre-paid meter was top on the list as it affects even the men of the pen world. Mr. Ofulue informed the gathering that IE is highly desirous to meter each of its customers; however the prevailing economy has not made it possible for IE to achieve that while noting that prior to the current phase of pre-paid installations of 85,000 meters ongoing IE had invested about thirty million US Dollars on metering her customers before it was halted. He said that the current phase is done through a method of identifying highly revenue zones which will in turn enhance her revenue generation for further investments, while assuring that in the next six months the issue on metering will be drastically reduced in addition with the proposed Meter Asset Providers (MAP) currently been fine tuned for implementation by the federal government. He reiterated the benefits accruing to the company which he said was enormous.
While answering question on why the estimated bills have persisted despite the public outcry, Mr Ofulue hinted that though it is agreeable that the estimated bill system does not reflect the true consumption of customers which can only be solved by metering every customer however IE has reduced the basis of estimation on actual consumption per transformers by installing meters to all the transformers thereby determining the actual consumption within the community using such transformers, he counselled further consumers to help IE in monitoring the consumption within or community and using the appropriate whistle-blower to report such while noting that it is very impossible for IE to carryout consumption assessment on all her customers, hence since the ripple effect of consumption of one customer is borne by all, it is therefore imperative for every consumer to be watchful and report such to IE authorized agent for appropriate investigation and subsequent actions.
On outstanding or inherited bills he enlightened the men of the press that by explaining that the energy sector is broken into different units which include the generation companies (GENCOs) transmission companies (TCNs) Distribution Companies (DISCOs) which IE represents, hence for any consumption the DISCOs earn about 24-25% the GENCOs earn about 50% and so on; therefore it is very difficult for any debt irrespective of who consumed it to be written off by any DISCO, he advised that in the case of rental of an apartment the prospective tenant should demand for the position of energy bill before accepting such, where it is observed that there are outstanding the tenant should demand from the landlord/landlady on how to offset such, on the other it is expedient for landlord/landlady to notify IE of any tenant failing to pay his or her energy bill for disconnection and further actions before such tenants moves.
Mr. Ayeni Akinola added that even in the case of outright purchase of a property, it is important to verify the status of such property before purchase as the bill will always surface at the time of reconnection of the new property which was termed by publisher of The Alimosho Mail as “ancestral bill”. In his (Mr. Felix) word, no bill can be written off by any DISCO once it is issued as it will mean owing the other parties.
Furthermore he used the opportunity to mention of the exclusive customer pilot program which is currently text run with Ikeja GRA, which has seen IE investing more within the axis which has also improved their supply with the effect of paying more. He boasted that power has improved tremendously except for areas with difficulties like lack of payment, threat to life of IE personnel etc.
He reiterated that IE does not tolerate any assault on its staff for any reason as it will plunge such area into darkness without any apology and for the areas with low payment; it will be unwise as a business to continue supplying such area with energy thereby forcing the company to plunge resources from other areas into such areas. While responding on question on ceeding part of their network jurisdiction to private GENCOs (Embedded Power) as the case with Isheri Whitesand and Obadore, he vehemently rejected the possibility of such without proper agreement on the modus operandi.
On why installation of transformer bought by communities sometime become almost impossible to connect to the grid and the possibility of a community retrieving materials bought for the purpose of power supply; he opined that there are due processes, standards and specifications for the purchase of any electrical product; that if any of such is not met it becomes very difficult to effect such connection while stressing that it is impossible for any community to retrieve any appliance from any Disco as there would have been an agreement signed before such is connected.
Ofulue further assured that the engagement will be frequent while reiterating the need to partner community media and used the medium to inform the forum of their whistle blower handle which he said is an independent partner from the personnel of IE and urge members to always report issues to the appropriate quarters of decision makers and not to marketers who he said are not part of the decision maker. Issues should be reported to the undertaken offices through the commercial manager or to the business unit office before escalating to Alausa. While on the social media platforms he said that efforts are often made by escalating issues to the appropriate quarters once it is received, however unlike the telecommunication industry the energy sector requires physical inspection/assessment of issues hence it is difficult to get feedback immediately as in the case of telecos.
The president of APCOM Mr Dayo Akintobi on behalf of the association thanked IE for such recognition and pledged support of the association to IE, in what seem to be the case of Oliver Twist, he further highlighted the challenges of community media and the need for a partnership such as this be backed with supports such as quarterly advert placements.