• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Electricity consumers condemn crazy bills, demand adequate metering

Electricity-Meter

Some electricity consumers in the country have described current billing system of power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) as outrageous and disturbing.

They said the billing system and poor metering by the DISCOs had made many consumers to begin to doubt the wisdom of privatising the power sector.

A survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicated that many consumers were disturbed by inadequate meters and the erratic billing system in the name of estimated bills.

They said that the estimated billing system was due to the desperation of distribution companies to make high revenues in spite of poor power supply.

Amos Simon, the Chairman, Palmgrove Housing Estate in Lagos, said that the objective of government in privatising the power sector had been subverted by the new owners.

He said that the new operators were only interested in making more money through crazy bills than issuing meters.

Simon expressed regret that the Credit Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI), a metering intervention programme introduced in 2014 by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory

Commission (NERC) had been stopped by the new investors.

He said that the programme was to bridge metering gaps and eliminated or random billing.

“It will also enhance revenue generation as well as reduce revenue losses by operators.’’

“Many Nigerians are now regretting that they supported the government when the plan was being sold to the people.

“The existing regulations provided that consumers should not pay for meters as it was to be supplied free of charge by electricity distributors and paid for on monthly basis.

“The paucity of funds, which militated against adequate procurement of the facility by DISCOs forced the CAPMI to come in and intervene in the metering problem,’’ he said.

Theodora Orji, the Managing Director, Treasureland Pure Water in Ikoyi, described the estimated billing system as a fraud.

Orji accused the private electricity distributors of extorting consumers in spite of poor service delivery.

She suggested that the only way out was for government to begin to sanction operators over the poor billing system.

According to her, consumers are also complaining that in spite of erratic power supply, they were still assisting the powers in procuring transformers and other electricity facilities in their areas.

Akinyele Agbetuyi, a customer of Ikeja Electricity Company, alleged that most

DISCOs were not engaging competent hands.

Agbetuyi said that many consumers were not happy with the current situation, stressing that of the town-hall meetings held with operators had always ended in fights and chaos.

According to him, consumers are becoming increasingly hostile to marketers over the estimated billing system and non-metering of consumers in the last three years of operation of the company.

“This has also caused electricity consumers’ reluctance to pay bills, while the attitude of unmetered customers has led to huge loss of revenue to the DICSOs.

Tajudeen Bamidele, the Chairman, Prestige Printing Press in Somolu, Lagos, said that many consumers still remained unmetered several months after paying for meters.

Bamidele said that NERC should begin to sanction power distribution companies which failed to provide meters for customers who had paid for them under the CAPMI scheme.

According to him, metering is important to the success of privatisation of the electricity industry, particularly as it is to address the problem of crazy billing and protect the interests of the distribution companies against revenue losses.

“It is however imperative for the DISCOs to increase public awareness on metering through aggressive campaigns so that more willing customers can be encouraged.

“Electricity consumers in Lagos are not happy the outrageous bills received from electricity companies in spite of poor power supply since November 2015″.

Wale Akanbi, the Managing Director, Walex Investment, producer of Walex Pure Water in FESTAC Town in Lagos, said that it was difficult for businesses in FESTAC to break even because of power electricity.

Akanbi said that he was spending close to N350,000 monthly on diesel to power his generator, adding that in spite of this the electricity company was bringing estimated bills of N50,000 monthly.

Alhaja Afusat Popoola, the Iyaloja General of Ijora Frozen Foods Association, said that power outage in the market had driven many traders away from their shops.

Popoola said the market lost close to N20 million to power outage in 2015 and appealed to government and power investors to find lasting solution to poor electricity supply before it would get out of hand.

Felix Ofulue, the Head, Corporate Communication Unit of Ikeja Electricity, told NAN that the company had commenced distribution of free prepaid meters in the zone.

He appealed to communities within the zone to be patient, adding that prepaid meters would soon get to their area.

Sam Nwaire, the Chief Operating Officer of EKEDC, said that the company had metered more than 96,200 consumers in the zone.

Nwaire assured that the remaining consumers would be installed under the five-year plan drawn for the scheme.

He said consumers should stop complaining about estimated billing because they were being billed according to their power consumption.

The chief operating officer said that since the removal of fixed charge from monthly bills, consumers were being billed according to energy used.