The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has warned electricity distribution companies (Disco) not to engage in mass disconnection of customers saying it was not the best way to solve the issues of debts occasioned by estimated billings.
The organization said it was illegal for the disco to disconnect a customer that is legitimately paying his bills simply because some other customers refused to pay because of the outrageous bills given to them.
Babatunde Irukera, the commission’s Chief Executive, expressed the displeasure at the Customers’ Engagement Town Hall meeting organised by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company(EKEDC) in Lagos.
Irukera called for aggressive metering to curb the estimated billings.
The FCCPC boss commended the management of Eko Disco on their prompt and effective complaints resolution within its network, which he said also said helps build consumers’ confidence.
He said there was no acceptable combination of facts that would justify the group disconnection of electricity consumers where there were some of the consumers that might have paid their bills.
According to him, there was absolutely no reasons for any distribution companies to disconnect consumers on the account of `group disconnection’, no matter what the case may be, adding that FCCPC would continue to push for the elimination of this unfriendly and aggressive attitudes of DisCos.
The group disconnection of consumer’s electricity, without consideration for those paying their bills, he said is an abuse of consumers’ rights.
Irukera said that the objective of the Town Hall meeting was to engage electricity consumers directly to facilitate dialogues and proffering solutions to difficult consumer issues on electricity.
He said his organisation expected DisCos to listen to consumer’s complaints and understand their grievances in order to improve their service delivery.
There is no justification for billing consumers for power that was not received or consumed, he pointed out. “An estimated billing is an abuse; we used to have an estimated billing in Nigeria before the DisCos came on board, and it was not as contentious and discriminating as we have it now,” he said.
Consumers he said refused to pay their bills because the estimated billings were “arbitrary and crazy” and therefore urged DisCos to follow the estimated billing methodology as stated by law, which makes it rational and reasonable.
DisCos, he stated should be responsive and sensitive in addressing consumers’ complaints.
“I expected EKO Discos to build on its effective metering schemes to create transparency in addressing the estimated billings. We are also planning to bring all the power stakeholders such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Generating Companies of Nigeria (GENCO) and Distribution Companies (DISCOs) together to address challenges confronting the sector.”
Adeoye Fadeyibi, the Chief Executive Officer, EKEDC, said the company had improved tremendously on its customer service delivery system within its operations.
Fadeyibi, who was represented by Joseph Ezenwa, the chief finance officer of the company, said that EKEDC had the responsibility to satisfy its customers.
According to him, the company would ensure the maximum supply of electricity to its customers, adding that the company had stepped up on prompt response to addressing faults and outage within its network.
Fadeyibi said that the Metering Assessment Programme initiative would go a long way in addressing the metering gap within the network. He said the company had metered more than 150,000 customers and about seven meter service providers had been engaged to commence on the MAP schemes.
“In spite of our efforts in ensuring effective metering within our network to ease customer’s complaints, we noticed that over 70,000 customers have not vended (recharged the pre-paid meter) in the last one year.
“Some customers are in the habit of bypassing meters and engaging in energy theft.