Traders at the Ogba Shopping Complex in the Ikeja area of Lagos State have protested against the lack of power supply in the complex, alleging extortion.
The placard-carrying traders, who also lamented low patronage at the mall, sang solidarity songs as they blamed the complex developer, Kehinde Fajana, for their ordeals.
Some of their placards read, ‘We demand reduction in our service charge,’ ‘Separate our bill from generator,’ ‘The mall is faceless, no publicity from the management,’ ‘We want our light fixed, no more four hours light,’ and ‘This is a mall, not a hospital, not a school.’
A fashion designer, Rhoda Alakiu, said shop owners were locked in a battle with Fajana over a number of issues.
She said, “The developer started charging for toilet use and allowed us and our customers to use toilets only when we paid our service charge. Later, we agreed to it. In the beginning, it was high, but we fought for a reduction.
“Then, we were paying both service charge and electricity bills together, which we also deliberated on till it became N10,000 per month. Sometimes, we don’t have power supply and the developer said he was going to supply us prepaid meters. Unfortunately, we discovered that the meters were not purchased from the power company, but from China.
“Later, Mr Fajana merged our electricity and generator bills. If there is no power supply, the gen is turned on. The lowest electricity bill is N5,000 a week. So, why won’t we have power supply and why are we paying N100 per unit?”
Another protester, Azeez Yusuf, said despite using prepaid meters, there had not been power supply in the complex in the last two weeks.
A female trader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lack of power supply had affected businesses in the complex.
The trader said, “We pay N300,000 upwards (on rent) for each shop. We also pay for car parks, among other bills.
“We wanted to buy our prepaid meters outside, but the developer said no. Whenever we resume for business, we sit down, doing nothing because we do not have customers again. The developer is not creating publicity for the shopping complex.”
A fabric trader, Bukola Adejuyigbe, said shop owners usually used their mobile phones to light up their shops for customers.
“Some traders left because they were not satisfied with the developer’s services. Our shops are dark and customers hardly see what they buy,” she added.
The head of female traders in the complex, Alhaja Ganiyat Kasiru, said the developer promised to resolve the problems.
The developer, Fajana, denied the allegations, saying the prepaid meters were purchased from accredited agents.
He said, “The traders complained that the electricity bill was high and we explained to them that they were paying for generator and electricity bills because when there is no electricity, we turn on the generator.
“But in March, we received an electricity bill of N2.5m and the total inflow was less than that. So, the power company disconnected us from the power supply and we started using the generator to provide electricity for four hours per day pending the period we would discover the cause of the hike in electricity bills.
“Also, why I did not purchase the prepaid meters from the power firm is because there are accredited agents appointed by the Federal Government to sell prepaid meters. We purchased from those agents.
“The accredited prepaid meter testing agents have certified the meters we purchased to be good. I have made a lot of publicity about the shopping complex on radio stations. The traders should also make efforts to advertise their goods to increase patronage.”