The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission says four million electricity consumers in the country are without prepaid meters
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |
MORE than four million electricity consumers in Nigeria are without prepaid meters. Anthony Akah, acting chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, who stated this in an interview, also said the commission had improved on the metering system. He, however, explained that the unavailability of meter manufacturing companies hinder maximum provision of meters to Nigerians.
“You have to order them; you have to configured them and protect the system. You have to deploy the technical expertise to ensure that these meters are not bye passed. But as we speak today, theses meters are being bye passed,” he said.
Akah said the commission would sanction electricity distribution companies, Discos, which failed to comply with directives relating to the distribution of prepaid meters. “It is our responsibility to ensure compliance with these metering scheduled. We have our monitoring team following them and we want to make sure that if they don’t deploy the number of meters per month, per quarter or per year, we are going to sanction them severely for that.
“The customer that does not have electricity meter and who feels that he was giving a wrong bill for that month has the right to reject that bill and he should only pay the last bill he accepted,” he said.
He noted that any customer, who paid for prepaid meter, should be metered within 60 days of payment. “If they don’t meter you, the electricity distribution company have no right to estimate your bill if you have given money to them and they have not given you meter after 60 days,” he said.
Akah said the NERC would ensure refunds were made to customers wrongly billed and that prepaid meters are installed for them.
Nevertheless, he decried the situation where PHEDC workers were attacked by customers in their area, saying that such act was grossly unacceptable. “They are doing their legitimate job and for them to be harassed or interrupted in the course of doing their legitimate jobs, you are not helping to solve the problems of electricity in the country.”
Akah reiterated the commission’s commitment to ensuring that electricity consumers are not exploited, explaining that Discos are purely private sector-driven and not government owned. He said that government was only providing a regulatory framework and enabling environment. He noted that fixed charges in electricity billing did not exist again but had been recalibrated as part of the charges.
According to him, if there is no electricity, distribution company should not charge the customers. “We, as regulators, listen to Nigerians; we remove the fixed charges and recalibrated it into the energy charged. What it means now is that if I don’t have light, you don’t have any right to charge me, if I travel for three months, you have no right to come back to my house and charge me,” he said.
Akah decried a situation where consumers provide resources to restore faulty power installations or transformers to the company. He said that it was the obligation of the electricity distribution company to provide for the infrastructure, adding that the tariff paid by consumers covers infrastructure installations. He urged electricity distribution company staff not to compel customers to provide resources to restore faulty power installations in the country.
“However, if communities want that, they should enter into agreement with us as a regulator being a witness to that and to ensure that the cost of that agreement should be refund over time by the distribution company.”
He gave Nigerians the assurance that the regulatory commission would continue to balance the interest of customers and that of the operators in the state.