The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has called for patience among electricity consumers, saying the legal and regulatory framework put in place was set to attract huge investments to the nation’s power sector.
The Vice chairman of NERC, Muhammed Lawal Bello, made the appeal at the public consultation and fact finding mission on the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) held in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.
Bello urged stakeholders to be patient and not blame the investors who have taken risks by putting their money, some of which was obtained through high interest loans. He urged consumers to be confident of the imminent improvements of service delivery as the regulator is working hard to balance the interest of the consumers as well as the investors.
“The concern here is inadequacy. This adequacy will definitely not be spontaneous. There will be gestation period for investment. So our message is for Nigerians to be a little bit more patient. This reform is the best thing, under the circumstances, we can do. I believe the regulatory and legal frame has been set enough for investments to come in this industry. And we have been getting good feedback, people are now coming, getting license and trying to be involved in the whole value chain in the industry,” he said.
Giving his remark, Bello stated that the CAPMI Scheme was introduced to help willing customers advance funds for purchase and installation of meters, stressing that such payment would be refunded through a rebate on the fixed charge element of the electricity bills.
The Assistant General Manager, Customer Service Standards, Shittu Lawal, said metering was critical to the electricity supply value; hence government has come up with scheme to facilitate faster acquisition of meters.
According to him, metering is a sure option to eliminate the widely criticised estimated billing system and ‘crazy billings’.
Speaking at the occasion, the Director, Marketing and Consumer Affairs, Yola Electricity Distribution Company ( YEDC), Mr Victor Risma, said the company has received 1,625 applications for pre-paid meters since June last year.
According to him, about 668 meters had been installed while 957 were yet to be installed, adding that efforts were on to get greater number of customers metered in the region.
Risma also disclosed that YEDC has done a minor update on the credit meter system database to allow for the refund of money advanced for the purchase of meters. “When we took over, we noticed that pre-paid system was very outdated and could not allow the refund of the fixed charges. So, we are forced to go for an upgrade of prepaid system to allow for refund,” he said.
He added that the company was targeting full system upgrade within the year.
The Managing Director, Ortech Nigeria Limited, Georges Garbi, at the event, called for upward review of the cost of meter and installation to reflect the cost of materials needed for installation.
Garbi, who said his company has installed over 200, 000 meters across the country, noted that the review would encourage meter installers to use quality materials that can stand the test of time.
“95 per cent of meters in Nigeria are badly installed. Proper installation of meter needs quality service cable which is costly,” said Garbi.
Meanwhile, electricity consumers came down hard on YEDC, complaining of low service delivery, high service charges, and technically faulty meters, among other things.
Kabiru Garba commended NERC for organising and bringing consultative forum to their zone, saying most customers in the area complain they were not given fair judgement when they approached YEDC for issues.
According to Garba, the establishment of a forum office in Yola would give succour to the aggrieved customers in the area.