The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) have responded to the allegations of failing to play their role as regulators in the power sector and ripping off electricity customers respectively.
Two major newspapers, the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Daily Trust Newspapers had reported exclusively that power Distribution Companies (DisCos) were ripping off their customers through estimated billings and unrealistic tariff band methodology, where consumers pay cost-reflective tariffs and still do not get commensurate electricity supply across Nigeria. The newspapers also reported that NERC looks on helplessly as consumers are trapped in the nationwide extortion.
Following the indictments, NERC and AEDC made clarifications during an anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Speaking during the programme, NERC’s Assistant General Manager, Consumer Enlightenment, Zubair Babatunde Zubair debunked allegations of the inability of NERC to regulate excesses of the DisCos, stating that the Commission was addressing corruption issues in the power sector at a larger scale according to the Act establishing them.
He further revealed that there are internal mechanisms in place to fight corruption at the level of the DisCos.
“The Act that established the Commission (NERC) gave us powers to resolve issues, be it with the consumers, be it with the licensees and the commission has established a lot of fora where we can do this.
“Where there’s an allegation of corruption when it has to do with the DisCos, I believe they have their internal mechanisms to deal with their staff. Any member of their staff that is caught exhibiting acts of corruption in whichever way, I’m sure AEDC knows how to handle corruption.
“If it has to do with the licensee because we deal largely with the board, we have the mechanism to deal with them, that is the extent that NERC can go because of the powers we have in line with our Act to sanction anybody that we feel is corrupt or the reports are brought to the Commission, we do our investigations, we call them, we interview them, we get to the bottom of the matter, get our findings right and we fire whoever is involved,” Zubair stated.
On estimated billing, He said: “On the issue of metering, I want our customers to know that there is nothing like estimated billing, it has been abolished. What they have now is capping for consumers that do not have meters. What the capping order tries to do is to give a fair billing for those customers who are unmetered, this gives a fair semblance of what customers should be enjoying on the same feeder until they are metered.”
On the rip-off of citizens through tariff band methodology, Zubair disclosed that NERC is on course to develop an App that will monitor the service delivery of the DisCos in a bid to ensure that electricity consumers do not pay for the power they didn’t use.
He however stressed that the Commission hitherto ensured DisCos compensate electricity customers who didn’t get commensurate service they paid for with energy hours or credit.
NERC also pledged to address the complaint of the Pegi community in the Kuje Area Council, in Abuja. The had in 2018 requested the supply of a transformer, concrete poles, prepaid meters and complained about outrageous billing and poor service delivery.
Similarly, the Head of Corporate Communications at AEDC, Olabode Fadipe maintained that tariff band methodology was not is not faulty and reassured that electricity customers under AEDC will not be charged for services offered in the case of a bad electricity transformer or breakdown of any other infrastructure.
Fadipe who lauded PRIMORG for providing them with the platform to inform customers about their operations, however, denied every form of rip off of its customers.
He stated that logistical challenges hinder metering every customer at the same time. “The logistics to meter every customer at the same time is not there because you don’t have more than 24 hours. We have about four hundred thousand customers to meter, even the production of meters will not cover all the quantity that we need at the same time.”
He added that electricity consumers under AEDC will be metered in 36 months’ time in the mass metering project.
Fadipe revealed that AEDC is working with security operatives to apprehend individuals who engage in illegal connections while promising to address the numerous complaints raised by electricity consumers in Abuja.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
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