Residents Protest As EKEDC, Tinubu’s Estate Developer Violates NERC Metering Regulation In Lagos 

Enoch Oyedibu

Residents of Royal Gardens Estate on Lekki-Epe Expressway gathered en masse on Thursday to protest arbitrary charges, lack of transparency, accountability, and the use of bulk metering within the estate by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company in collusion with Trojan Estate Limited.

The developers of the estate, Trojan Estate, currently managed by Rilwan Olakunle Tinubu, are alleged to have violated the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) 2015 regulations, which nullify the use of bulk metering in households under Sam Amadi, its former boss.

The Commission agreed in 2015 with the Nigerian Senate’s position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing residential customers and replace it with individual metering and billing.

It is important to note that the Commission previously abolished bulk billing in its ruling on the VGC Case CASE NO: NERC/H/03/07 in 2008. 

However, despite the ruling in favor of the customer, EKEDC has continued to use bulk metering, this time allegedly in collusion with estate developers, leading to arbitrary service charges and constant blackouts, which have drastically increased security challenges in the estate.

In a protest led by Royal Gardens Estate executives, former Estate Executive member Mr. Henry Onaga said it has been a running battle with Trojan Estate, and everything started because the developers refused to sign the Service Level Agreement (SLA), which has been pending since 2018.

The Estate Chairman, Mr. Anthony Ogbebor, who agreed to speak with us over the phone, said the SLA helps bring transparency to the process of managing the estate.

“Before 2012, this document did not exist. When we went to court, the developers generated an SLA and gave it to the new and old buyers. We took them to court, and the court clearly stated that if this document was available before the estate came into existence, it would be valid. 

“But since it is otherwise, both the residence and the estate must develop an SLA to be valid. Around 2018 and 2019, the document was reviewed and updated. It is just to get it to the Trojan Management to sign, but they refuse to sign the SLA.”

In the words of Mr. Onaga, “It has been a running battle to get Trojan Estates Limited, the developers of Royal Gardens, to act within the law,” but the essence of the protest is to ensure the disconnection of “illegal bulk metering of power supply to the estate.”

Mr. Onaga explained that “the estate developers have been in cohort with EKEDC to surcharge us on the issue of power supply. 

“What they’ve done is mount what they call an industrial meter very close to their office, their transmission center in Aja here. Every time, they’ve always imposed bills on us that are far from the essence of the power we consume in our households. 

“By doing so, irrespective of the tokens we sell within the household, we’ve never been able to generate even fifty per cent of the bills they slam on us. This has resulted in us levying ourselves on what we call the ‘Common Power Levy,’ and each household will contribute formerly 27,000 naira, irrespective of whatever we use in our households to pay these people. Even at that, nothing is forthcoming. And we say, why don’t you meter us individually? So that the common areas that are generating these humongous bills will be identified and isolated. But they refuse.

“EKEDC, in collaboration with the developers of this estate, have refused to hear from us and have been imposing bulk metering on us. They’ve put us on Band A from 66 per kilowatt energy to 225 per kilowatt energy. It has become impossible for us to pay for power, and the estate has been thrown into darkness, increasing insecurity within the estate.”

At night, the residents of Royal Gardens Estate said the whole premises would be plunged into darkness because power is generated from a single source, and once the power source is down, everything will be in darkness.

Mr. Ogbebor said the extraneous charges are excessive and far-reaching. “Before, once we bought the card, your light would be on, and it could only be off when you exhausted your card. 

But now, we don’t get to enjoy that with the bulk meter system. In the bulk meter system, whether we use electricity or not, our bill is reading, and we must pay.

“If they bring the April bill and add it to the existing bill, we’ll see something close to 250 to 300 million naira as our bill for just two months.”

According to a copy of the electricity bill obtained by our correspondent, 174 Million Naira was levied on the Estate as the energy charge for April, while 187 million naira was calculated as the current bill amount the estate must pay.

In a May receipt, EKEDC noted a 276 million naira electricity bill that must be paid by Royal Gardens Estate. Out of the charges, 110 million naira was for the electricity bill for the month, while about 166 million naira was for outstanding charges.

Residents demand that the developers of the estate end the insecurity within the estate, which is aided by the non-availability of electricity supply to power street lights; dismantle the Bulk Meter to End Regular Disconnection that is worsening the supply of power, and ensure the finalization of the service level agreement (SLA) is signed.

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