Nigerians anticipate the provision of new card reading meters to consumers to alleviate the problems of excessive billings under the connotation of ‘estimated billing’ among other sharp practices in the nation’s power system.
The Nigerian government was compelled to implement radical actions leading to the enactment of electric power sector reform act of 2005, which called for unbundling the national power utility company into series 18 successor companies, 6 generating companies (GENCOs), 12 distributional companies (DISCOs) covering all 36 Nigerian states and National Power Transmission Company. These reform measures have since remained a continuum for the sole purpose of developing the electrical sector of the nation to a global standard that will in furtherance enable the country develop her industries and economy to reasonable heights.
Hence, the formation of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), tasked with the assignment of monitoring and regulating the electricity industry, with issuing of licences to market participants and ensuring compliance with market and operating guidelines. Thus, the idea of local distribution companies came into cognizance, with each company responsible for handling electricity distribution in each state or region.
As a result of incessant complaints from consumers and firms/ institutions for what is termed CRAZY BILLS, the general public has put-up an aggressive request for a metering method that would allow for adequate reading of consumption rate of customers as utilized and transparent accordingly.
Similarly, Mr. James Chijioke, President Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria has alleged that there was need for NERC to impose sanctions on DISCOS that did not provide pre-paid meters to their consumers as a sign of transparency and seriousness in dealings.
Indeed, anything short of these give credence to insinuations that NERC and the DISCOS are benefiting from the shortcomings of consumers who are at the receiving end, hence they should stop deceiving the public.
Although, Mr. Kosoko, the EKO distribution Plc, Apapa DISCO spokesperson revealed that the Eko DISCO had on their own discretion, single handedly released 1000 pre-paid meters to consumers within their catchment area.
He noted that it was not enough and assured that the company was planning to do more.
The perennial problem of prepaid meters across the nation and consequent harsh electricity charges via high estimated billing system has been noted as a major limiting factor to private sector investment in the gas-to-power sector of the nation’s economy.
According to experts in the gas sector, the fact that electricity tariffs are not market reflective have prevented genuine investors from venturing into the business as they cannot ascertain how much income could be generated from power.
All hands must be on deck in this major national dilemma of prepaid meter. The Federal Governmnent, NERC, GENCOs and DISCOs must live up to the expectations and fix the national issue.