Customers and meter installers are conniving to manipulate the equipment, The Nation has learnt.
The installers were hired by electricity distribution companies( DisCos) because of shortage of skilled workers.
It was gathered that some of those hired by the DisCos to install meters connive with corrupt customers to manipulate the meters for selfish reasons.
The Nation’s findings reveal that the firms oftentimes use adhoc staff to instal meters, an issue, which is having undesirable effect on their operation.
This issue made the firms to contend with several cases of meter bypass and the associated loss of revenue.
A source close to one of the DisCos, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said many of the energy distributors are contending with several cases of meter bypass and loss of revenue occasioned by the use of unqualified workers to install meters.
The source said the firms, as a result of these untoward practices, spend several months to install between 20,000 and 30,000 meters, which prevent customers from getting meters on time. This situation makes many customers to continue to pay estimated bills, and lose money.
The source said: “There is no denying the fact that the firms were grappling with problems, such as finance, shortage of manpower, lack of skilled workers to carry out metering activities, estimated billings and others. While some of the DisCos have taken delivery of imported meters while others are yet to but distribution and installation of the meters continue to be a problem. The managements of the power firms were working hard to overcome the problem.”
Ikeja Electric (IE) spokesman, Mr. Felix Ofulue, confirmed that there were not enough skilled workers to install smart meters, which the DisCos were deploying.
He said the DisCos were deploying a technology known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to improve their operation, adding that the technology ensures that consumers use smart meters and interface with their DisCos.
The meters, Ofolue said, are intelligent, interactive and provide a two-way communication between the DisCos and their customers, adding that the industry lack skilled workers that can install the meters
National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) Chief Executive Officer, Reuben Okeke said the sector lacked the capacity to install meters. He said many meters were by-passed because they are not well installed.
He said the bypassing started from when the meters were installed, arguing that meters that were not properly installed were prone to manipulation.
He said unscrupulous people tamper with meters during installation to prevent them from registering the actual amount of energy consumed.
Okeke said the development made NAPTIN to partner the United States Energy Association (USEA) to train people on how to install meters, among carrying out other technical responsibilities in the sector.
Source: The Nation