No fewer than 600 workers of meter manufacturers have lost their jobs in the past six months. Reason: lack of patronage in the power sector, The Nation has learnt.
The firms, under the umbrella of the Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN), resorted to sack because of poor revenue, it was learnt.
The manufacturers said they couldn’t cope with their overhead costs in view of the prevailing industry challenges, including low patronage of their products by the electricity distribution companies (DisCos), weak exchange rate of the naira to dollar and other foreign currencies.
A source at one of the local meter manufacturers told The Nation that the meter manufacturers sacked between 50 and 55 per cent of their workers.
The source said the meter manufacturing firms, including MOMAS Nigeria Limited, sacked about 220 workers, Unistar Nigeria Limited (100); Mojec Nigeria Limited (100), and Emcon Nigeria Limited (100).
The Nation learnt that due to low patronage, the firms have been laying off their staff.
EMMAN’s spokesman Ibrahim Muhideen who, confirmed the staff downsizing, said more workers would go except something was done to address the meter manufacturers’ problems, such as poor patronage to enable them boost their income.
Muhideen said the companies were operating below capacity, a development, which rendered many of their workers redundant. Describing the development as rather unfortunate, Ibrahim urged the Federal Government to intervene by liberalising the meter market to allow EMMAN members sell to individuals and corporate organisations by the vendors approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Muhideen said: “The government should liberalise the meter market so that individuals can also buy meters from approved NERC vendors and installers. If the market is liberalised, more electricity consumers will be metered and it will go a long way in addressing problems such as “crazy” and estimated billing system that is currently being battled by consumers.
He urged the government to allow meter manufacturers sell meters to the consumers because some distribution firms were not willing to give meters to customers.
The Chief Executive officer, MOMAS Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kola Balogun, also said his firm retrenched over 200 workers, which according to him represents over 50 per cent of the workforce.
He said the wage bill is high, and that the firm cannot afford to continue to pay salaries, stressing that more people would lose their jobs across board,if the situation does not improve.
“Despite the fact that our production lines have been improved to meet international standards, coupled with the high quality meters we produce, the electricity distribution companies don’t patronise us. Only Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and Port Harcourt Distribution Company (PHDC) buy from us. But that is not enough. Thousands of meters are in the store because there is no patronage,” Balogun added.
He urged the government to create a five per cent special fund for meter manufacturers to aid their operations and enable them sell their products at competitive price.