*Calls for sanctions on estimated billing
By Sebastine Obasi and Ediri Ejoh
ELECTRICITY consumers have called for the revocation of the licenses of Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and sanctions against estimated billing otherwise, known as crazy bills.
They also accused the regulatory arm of the power sector, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, of conniving with the distribution companies, DISCOs, to defraud consumers. These views were expressed at the just concluded Zonal interactive session between the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Electricity Customers’ Complaints and electricity consumers in Lagos.
A customer who identified herself as Dr. Ibukun Ogundipe, Chairman, Ekiti Landlords and Landladys’ Electricity Consumers Association, under the network of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, said, “The distribution company is fraudulent as we are on the verge of charging them to court. We don’t get supply but still receive enormous and unimaginable bills on a monthly basis. In Ado Ekiti, for example, there are no pre-paid meters.”
Also, Mr. Bode Ojomu of Magodo Phase 1 in Lagos State, called for the revocation of licences of the DISCOs. “There is need for a holistic appraisal of the DISCOs to checkmate the irregularities in their operations. DISCOs have not added any value to Nigerians. Power supply has turned from bad to worse, as we are constantly forced to pay for darkness. We are calling on the government to place a sanction on estimated billing and possibly treat it as illegal.” Despite all of these irregularities in the power sector, the regulators are yet to sanction these DISCOs. It is on this note we say that NERC has been bribed by the DISCOs to keep quite while Nigerians suffer from these crazy billing system.” For Ayobo Ipaja in Lagos State, the situation is not different as customers decried excessive load shedding, thereby limiting power supply to about 10 hours in five days. “We sometimes get supply for 10 hours in two days or sometimes three days and then for the rest of the days in a week, we have blackout. We cannot survive in this kind of hardship. Our businesses are going down and more money is been pumped into alternative power supply (Generating sets), as returns on investment is very low due to these expenses,” he added.
Responding, Mrs. Doris Azimi, Senior Manager, Market Analysis, NERC, said that with a staff strength of less than 200, the establishment cannot effectively monitor the activities of the DISCOs. She clarified that consumers are not supposed to pay for meters.