Small and Medium Scale Enterprises business owners, under the aegis of Association of Shop Owners in Sura Business Complex, Lagos Island, on Wednesday stormed the premises of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) in Marina to protest against poor power supply.
The aggrieved business owners, led by their Chairman, Mrs Bunmi Ajayi, said they were fed up with poor electricity and outrageous estimated bills given by EKEDC.
They said they had resolved to source electricity power from an Independent Power Project (IPP) firm and were no longer ready to do business with EKEDC.
The traders displayed placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Sura Association says No to EKEDC,’ ‘We want IPP,’ ‘Stop EKEDC exploitation, IPP rescue us,’ and ‘We are tired of epileptic power supply,” among others.
The protesters, who gathered at the entrance of the Disco firm, lamented that because of the epileptic power supply from EKEDC, the over 1,000 shops in the shopping complex had almost become empty as many business owners had left.
PUNCH Metro gathered that EKEDC had allegedly frustrated the resolution of the association to opt out of its service; the move triggered the protest.
The chairman, Ajayi, said EKEDC lacked efficient customer service and was only interested in collecting money it did not work for.
She said, “We are small business people and electricity is crucial to our business.
“In Sura Business Complex, we have over 1,000 shops but if you come to the complex now, it is half occupied because traders have been leaving as there is no power supply. It is a multi-purpose business community where you have printers, as well as production and service industries; so we have people who need constant and regular power supply.
“The only thing we get from Eko Disco is bills. The bills are outrageous. We actually tasked ourselves to offset outstanding bills. When we complained to them about having just about three hours power supply, we do not get solution. The company cannot explain why we don’t get power supply.”
She hinted that traders in the complex had resolved to get an IPP company in order to move forward.
She said, “We need an alternative power supply and we have found a company to do that for us.
“However, we found out that Eko Disco don’t want that. The firm said such was a threat to their business. But the firm created a vacuum, which must be filled by the IPP company.
“We want Eko Disco to leave us alone; we are business people, we are not politicians, we want to do our business and do it well. We need regular power supply.
“Our demand is that we want to be allowed to engage the new company; Eko Disco shouldn’t be a clog in the wheel of progress.”
The Secretary General of the association, Greg Onoyen, said the traders were fighting for freedom, adding that efforts to secure prepaid meter for shops in the complex had proved abortive.
He said, “We have decided to go with IPP to have 24-hour power supply. The IPP firm will give us prepaid meters, a backup generator and a customer service centre. Eko Disco should allow us to go.”
Also, the Assistant Financial Secretary of the association, Kayode Okunola, said traders in the complex were ready to do business with any company that would give them uninterrupted power supply.
It was gathered that a letter where the demand of the association was listed was delivered to the Chief Executive Officer, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi.
Fadeyibi urged the traders to be rightly informed before taking any decision, adding that all distribution companies are regulated centrally.
He said, “The letter has been received, and I promise you that I will review it and revert as soon as possible. We want Sura complex to be happy; but I am appealing to you to do the right thing, which is to be informed and ensure that you recognise that there is a network that regulates our affairs.
“You have the right to peacefully protest here today. I speak on behalf of the board and the management and there is no intention to create undue pressure on our customers.
“I totally respect what you have just said in terms of where you are pained, but how we solve it must be methodical. We must do the right thing, we must ensure that the IPP firm or whoever is supplying you power also tells you the truth. Do not let anybody bamboozle you by telling you that you cannot work with the regulator. We all work within the regulator.
“One of the things we will do right away is to make sure you are reconnected while we deal with other issues later.
“There are issues in court which obviously I cannot speak about, but the part I can tell you is that Eko Electricity is fully cooperative in terms of any requirement by us to sit at any table to resolve issues.”