Monday, February 8, 2016 4:20 pm
Members of the organised labour today picketed the Ikeja Electric, IE, one of the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, for three hours to express their grievance over the planned increase in electricity tariff by the Federal Government.
The organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Civil society groups and others, blocked the main entrance of the company and prevented customers from gaining access.
The protesters marched from Allen on Awolowo Way, Ikeja down to Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria to the office of Ikeja Electric.
Some of the placards they carried read: “Fashola you again? What you did to state you’re planning it at Federal again! Stop your agitation for increase in tariff of electricity in Federal. Why?” “Provide electricity, develop our economy,” among others.
There was traffic gridlock on Awolowo Way as the protesters marched to the office of Ikeja Electric to express their grievances.
Thinking that the protesters would storm the Governor’s Office and the State House of Assembly, the entrance to the Governor’s Office and the House of Assembly was barricaded by battle-ready policemen led by the Commissioner of Police.
The aggrieved members vowed to continue to picket the DISCO until the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff is reverted.
Vice President, NLC, Amaechi Asugwuni said that the increment at this time negated the present economic hardship, saying it was an attempt to further impoverish the poor masses.
‘“The DISCO’s promised to give Nigerians meters in 18 months but they failed. This is corruption and it is ripping Nigerians off their money,” he said, adding that labour would continue to protest the 45 per cent increase until it was reversed or there was a substantive improvement in electricity supply.
Chief Finance Officer, Ikeja Electric, Aigbe Olotu, described the labour’s action as misplacement of priority, saying that the company was not in the right position to resolve the labour’s grievances as the Ministry of Power and National Electricity Regulatory Commission were involved.
According to him, “There are issues raised by the labour. Some issues are larger than us and we want to direct labour to higher levels, while some of the issues are something we can handle,’’ adding that though every customer was yet to receive prepaid meters, the company gives out 11, 000 meters monthly to its subscribers.
Coordinator, Consumer Protection Forum, Adeola Samuel-Ilori, stated that the organisation had engaged distribution companies several times on the issue of estimated billing without result, saying that if the DISCOs were able to meter all Nigerians within the 18 months gestation period, the problem of estimation billing would have been solved.
Various community groups-Ajeromi Ifelodun, Ago United, Okoto, Ajegunle Community, Ire-Akari and Oke-Afa community and Isolo-Ishaga community also took part in the protest and picketing.