By Clara Nwachukwu
ELECTRICITYconsumers in Dugbe, Oyo State owe the Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc, PHCN Dugbe Business Unit, about N1.15billion.
The Ag. Business Manager of the Business Unit, Mr. Ajisafe Bello, made the revelation recently during a Consumer Consultative Council, CCC Meeting of the Unit in Ibadan.
Bello revealed that the bulk of the debt are owed by residential customers, saying that only about 35 percent of the 91,777 customers under the Business Unit settle their bills in any given month.
He noted that the electricity industry was a capital intensive business and that without adequate payment for services rendered, it would be difficult for the power company to achieve improvement in its services. He, therefore, appealed to the CCC to prevail on their members to settle their electricity bills.
With regard to the activities of the Dugbe Business Unit, Bello disclosed that the Unit has installed a total of 13,832 prepayment meters in its network, with a view to making customers develop a culture of energy conservation, curb the incidence of inaccurate billing and enhance revenue generation.
However, he lamented that customers on the prepayment meters have not been coming forward to purchase energy as expected, despite the acknowledged improvement in power supply, adding that random checks on the premises of customers on the scheme revealed that some of them had circumvented the metering facility.
He said the Business Unit was considering the option of prosecuting customers who circumvent the prepayment meters as a deterrent to others.
Furthermore, Belo said the Business Unit has injected 11 Distribution substations into its network within the last 10 months to improve the quality of service delivered to customers.
The sub stations include Tope Ajagun 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Apata; Makanjuola 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Omi-Adio; Gate 500KVA 33/0.415KV substation in Omi Adio; Alafia 500KVA 33/0.415KV substation in Omi- Adio; and Oba Akenzua II 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Onireke.
Others are Yidi 500KVA 33/0.415KV substation in Apete; Favors Street 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in New Bodija; Abimbola Street 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Agodi; Atiba 500KVA 11/0.415 substation in Ring Road; Fadairo 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Jericho; and Lakeside 500KVA 11/0.415KV substation in Alalubosa.
Bello disclosed that within the same period, the Business unit also undertook the rehabilitation of Ijokodo 11KV feeders, Lanlate/ Eruwa 33KV feeder and the Eleyele/University of Ibadan 33KV feeders. He said the rehabilitation of the feeders has led to an improvement in the quality of power supplied to customers on the feeders, while also drastically reducing technical losses suffered on the feeder.
Bello disclosed that the most daunting challenge confronting the Business Unit is the non availability of transformers to replace those that were burnt in circuit, but said that communities caught up under the burnt transformers will soon get a reprieve, as the Ibadan Zonal Office had placed orders for over 300 new distribution transformers, which are awaiting clearance at the ports in Lagos and would be used to replace the burnt ones and also to relief some over loaded substations.
One of the customers who attended the meeting, Lt Col. Andabai, from the Nigerian Army 42 Division Cantonment, Ibadan, enjoined PHCN to also extend the prepayment meters to the Eleyele Barracks.
On his part, Mr. Wole Akereneke, who represented the Oyo State Branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian, MAN acknowledging the recent improvement in public power supply, urged PHCN to up its take, as manufacturers were still spending a fortune on alternative sources of energy. He said stable power supply is the key to employment generation and a robust economy.