By MICHAEL EBOH
The Federal Government has disclosed that it is considering a bill to curb energy theft and also make it possible for staffers of electricity distribution companies to collect their bills from customers without harassment.
The Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, disclosed this on post privatisation monitoring tour of the newly privatised Eko and Ikeja distribution companies, DISCOs, in Lagos.
He said the Government is putting finishing touches to a draft ‘Electricity Anti-Theft Bill,’ that will provide the legal framework to empower electricity distribution companies to collect their bills without molestation.
Dikki said this is in line with the thrust of the Jonathan/Sambo administration’s Transformation Agenda, which is to make the private sector the engine that drives the growth of the economy.
He commended the Ikeja and Eko DISCOs for the positive turnaround measures they have implemented in such a short period.
“This has given impetus to government’s drive for reforms and privatisation. We are emboldened to say that reform and privatisation works, as a result of the changes already brought about by the new Discos,” he maintained.
He noted that as a monolithic company, the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, had no incentive to improve collection or customer service, but with reforms, the new owners will work hard to recover their huge investments.
Dikki also pointed out that investors were able to embrace reforms because there were the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks that provided a clear investment horizon.
He urged the National Assembly to replicate the gains recorded in the power and telecommunications sectors in the oil and gas sector by passing the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, in order to attract investments into the sector.
?He noted that the BPE embarked on the post privatisation monitoring exercise to among others, find out the state of affairs in the power sector, the challenges faced by the investors, and obtain policy inputs to assist government in shaping policy that will stabilise and grow the sector.
Earlier in his brief to the team, a director of the Eko DISCO, Mr. Ernest Orji, ?noted that as 40 per cent shareholders, the investors see government as a partner, and as result, their goals are aligned.
He urged the Federal Government to urgently address the issue of capacity limitations in many transmission stations to facilitate the anticipated improvement in power generation and delivery to customers.
Orji pointed out that the shortfall in gas supply and frequent vandalism of gas pipelines, transmission infrastructure, transformers, energy theft, among others, had further affected the generation and distribution of electricity in the country.
He said that average power demand for the Eko DISCO is 700 megawatts, MW, while the average load allocation from the National Grid was only 290MW, thereby making it impossible to meet the needs of their customers.
He noted that as part of their post-acquisition plan, Eko DISCO plans to invest over N42 billion in the next five years, of which it had already secured an initial $150 million for its capital expenditure.