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FG orders PHCN to import prepaid meters

By on February 14, 2013

The Federal Government has directed the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, (PHCN), to import commercial number of new pre-payment meters for distribution to consumers nationwide.

The importation of the meters is aimed at ending the exploitation of consumers through estimation of their bills as a result of lack of meters.

The importation which is also based on the nation’s inability to produce the facility locally is to be carried out through local and foreign vendors.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi who confirmed the development in a telephone interview said: “It is not the duty of NERC to import the meters. It is the direct responsibility of electricity distribution companies, DISCOs to do so.

He said the commission has already directed them to import the new meters without delay. Investigations showed that the directive followed massive exploitation and complaints of consumers who petitioned the Commission from different parts of the nation.

The exploitation is said to have gotten to its climax when the PHCN stopped the issuance of new meters to consumers in all parts of the nation as well as raise its estimated tariff by over 150 per cent without any explanation.

This, it was learnt compelled consumers who live in two-bedroom flats that used to pay about N5,000 monthly tariff to now pay between N12,000 and N15,000, depending on the policies and practices of the distribution companies, DISCOs.

Consumers who live in three-bedroom flats and duplexes pay between N16, 000 and N20, 000 per month against about N7, 000 they used to pay.

These bills include Value Added Tax and “meter maintenance charge” even though most consumers do not have meters. Industry sources remarked that PHCN officials had purposely stopped the issuance of pre-payment meters after a noticeable drop in revenue as consumers adopted measures to reduce their tariff.

Consequently, many consumers who have been waiting for months to get the new meters after upfront payment are compelled to continue to pay bills estimated based on the so-called “dynamic average” consumption in a particular locality.

For instance, a few days ago, the youths of Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State took to the streets, protesting alleged extortion by the PHCN.

The protest nearly turned violent but for the timely intervention of the police. The youths, who carried placards with various inscriptions, were protesting what they termed illegal billings and extortion by the PHCN officials.

 

[National Mirror]

  • http://www.facebook.com/tijani.kayode.7 Tijani Kayode

    This is a wise decision if the FG has ordered PHCN to import pre-paid meters. As a matter of fact, installation of prepaid meters will certainly stop all the irregularities and extortions on the part of PHCN.