BY KUNLE KALEJAYE
Electricity consumers in some part of Lagos have expressed worry over increase in fixed metre charge for pre-paid metres users. They accused the Federal Government, through the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, of short changing Nigerians, considering that there was no stable power supply to justify the increase.
The fixed metre charge before the new tariffs kicked off in June 1, 2012 was N500, but was increased to N750 in June 1, 2013.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, said the price is the cheapest and lowest in the world.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the increase was meant to boost investors’ confidence in the ongoing privatisation process in the power sector.
NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi in an interview with Vanguard said N750 was not too much for fixed charge, adding that “my worry is that there is no electricity. N750 is not too much to pay. It is one of the lowest ever in the world. The problem we have is that Nigerians are used to paying nothing.
“This new increase is a basic requirement to attract investors in the power privatisation bid process but as time goes on, the price will drop when investors have recovered their money.
“As long as electricity is generated on a daily basis, the fix charge must be paid and that is how you can guarantee return on investment. The increase will favour investors”.
NERC boss maintain that it is cheaper for electricity consumer to stay connected to national grid as against generating power from generating sets.
An aggrieved electricity consumer who simply gave his name as Wole in Egbeda area of Lagos said “I use pre-paid metre but all of a sudden I discovered in June that my fix charge has increased from N500 to N750. Where is the power supply to justify this act of wickedness by PHCN?
He added that: “If the light is constant, they can increase whatever they want to increase and we will be ready and willing to pay whatever they want us to pay but when there is no stable power supply and you come to increase our charges, I think that is the height of insensitivity on the part of both government and PHCN”.
Speaking on the free pre-paid metre, an artisan Mr. Austine explained that there have been counter and misinformation flooding the newspaper about it.
“The Federal Government came said pre-paid meter is free but now they are signing a different tune saying that it is no longer free. Which one are we going to believe?
It would be recall that Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC announced that Nigerians will pay between N25,000 and N50,000 for pre-paid meters under the Credited Advance Pay for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) scheme.
NERC explained that the process will be very effective because about five Distribution Companies are to be used for the pilot scheme of CAPMI, these companies include Ibadan, Eko , Benin , Abuja and Kano.