The biggest and deepest pain of the electricity consumer today is the issue of fraudulent bills by the electric power houses and suppliers in the name of DisCos.
Our leaders have battled with the problems of regular or constant electricity supply to consumers without appreciable success for the past 20 years and counting.
Industries cannot cope with the dwindling supplies and they ship out of Nigeria, and rather than work on it by facing it, some of our leaders blame the situation it on their immediate predecessors in office, some ascribe the gargantuan challenges to the influence of demon spirits per a Federal Minister under the past administration, while others simply dig into the system, make their own money, move on to become governors, political big wigs, profiting from an industry infested with “demons”.
The Rule of thumb, is where ever you find things not working and people suffering in Nigeria, someone is smiling to the banks. I just wonder then why in spite of the huge sums sank by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration into Power generation and Distribution, we are still groping in darkness most days of the month, and no one is yelling from the EFCC. Does the fight against corruption exclude players in the power sector?
We must however save ourselves from the evil of estimated fraudulent electricity bills, which works like this; Power is supplied for about three days in the month usually towards the end of the month, to encourage and enable the DisCos to distribute their bills to consumers. These bills are estimated consumption by the marketing staff of the DisCos
The bills are assessed by the marketing staff’s personal judgment of the premises based on relationship with the occupants, the target assigned to him from his office, and his assessment of the occupiers’ ability to settle the bills by the end of the month.
When the bill is not paid, they mount surveillance on the premises, disconnecting them from the poles and this usually attracts the anger of those who managed to have paid their bills, and those who know that the estimated bill is a huge fraud. Fraud because the supply of electric power to any premises has no connection or correlation with what they paid in the previous periods, and how.
In spite of this knowledge, when a consumer applies for the Prepaid Meter, he is asked to clear a high percentage of the indebtedness which accumulated from estimated high bills, or no Prepaid Meter.
A perfect blackmail of consumers which all DisCos enjoy today by making money where they have put in so little.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, recently directed the electricity distribution companies, DisCos, to meter their maximum demand customers not later than November 30, 2016 and to provide meters to all classes of electricity customers in line with their performance agreement. The electricity distribution companies are expected to provide meter for all maximum demand meter customers on their networks not later than November 30, 2016 and that any Maximum Demand customer willing to subscribe to the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) during the moratorium period should be allowed. All DisCos have performance agreement which include their metering plans, but the average Nigerian consumer, has no idea what is in the performance agreement.
NERC has advised electricity consumers to explore its complaint and redress mechanism rather than resort to jungle justice in settling disputes with officials of electricity distribution companies,DisCos.This advice is coming on the heels of rising incidents of attacks on staff of electricity distribution companies.
The Commission announced that it will sanction any defaulting DisCo beginning fourth quarter of the year. Maximum demand electricity customers are those connected on the 11 Kv (high tension wire) and mostly with their dedicated transformers. Most citizens are not on this class, but the directive was sequel to the rising complaints from all categories of electricity customers over estimated bills they considered irreconcilable with the available power supply in the networks. Consumers complain of exploitation by DisCos at every corner. In Lagos for example, we have the Ikeja Electricty Distribution Company, IKEDC, and Eko Electirity Distribution Company, EKEDC.
The IKEDC seem to be more realistic and people friendly in their handling of requests for Prepaid meters than their colleagues in EKEDC. While IKEDC may allow a consumer to deposit just 30 percent of the total bill estimated before the Prepaid Meter may be approved and installed, EKDC insists on the deposit of 80 percent of the estimated outstanding bill.