DisCos Battle to Recover Unpaid Fixed Charge

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Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) are battling to recover huge unpaid fixed charge, increasing customers’ financial burden.

The Nation learnt that the Discos are insisting on payments of the fixed charges before customers recharge their meters. Customers using either analogue or pre-paid meters before did not pay fixed charges.

Customers were said to have defaulted in fixed charge payment fore it was abolished and tariff increaesed by 45 per cent last February 1.

Managements of the DisCos have warned their officials not to recharge the meters of customers who owe fixed charges until such debts are fully paid.

Most of the business units in Ikeja Electric (IK) visited by The Nation, showed that customers who owe arrears of fixed charges were barred from recharging their meters.

 According to officials of Ikeja Electric at Ponle Business Unit in Egbeda, Lagos, the decision was made by the management to make customers pay fixed charges they owe before the government cancelled it in February this year.A manager in the Unit, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said customers were owing DisCos arrears of fixed charges, stressing that power firms are not leaving any stone unturned to recover fixed charges owed them by customers.

He said: “From the available information at our disposal, it is clear that a lot of customers were indebted to the power distribution companies. Of note is debt arising from non-payment of fixed charges.  There are two approaches of recovering fixed charges owed by customers. First, DisCos have factored the fixed charges into monthly bills they are issuing to customers every month. Secondly, firms are compelling customers to clear arrears of fixed charges they owe before they are allowed to recharge their meters.”

He said power firms have ruled out the issue of concessions for customers that owe fixed charges; stressing customers are under obligation to pay their debts.

“Many customers have approached us for concessions on the issue of payment of fixed charges they owe before it was abolished by the government.  However, we told them point blank that we cannot give them concessions. Energy business is different from trading in pepper and onion, in which you can go to the market and pile up your debts. The only way for the DisCos to grow is to collect all their debts,” he added.

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