Electricity consumers clamour for more prepaid meters, oppose upward review of tariff

Some Stakeholders at a public hearing, organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Ibadan, have clamoured for availability of prepaid meters for consumers as against upward review of tariffs by distribution companies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, which held in Ibadan on Friday, had in attendance top management staff of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), civil rights advocates and a three-man panel, comprising NERC commissioners.
Speaking on behalf of the consumers, Mr Adeola Falade, Principal Partner, Initiative for Sustainable Infrastructure Development, said the review would add to the burden of Nigerians, as they were still grappling with the effect of increase in Value Added Tax (VAT).
“We want to urge the federal government as well as NERC not to approve the upward review of tariff because discos are not showing commitment to the electricity service delivery to this nation.
“Very recently, the federal government approved increase in VAT; so you want to increase the burden of Nigerians.
“We want all electricity consumers in Nigeria to be metered free of charge, and we are saying ‘No’ to upward review of tariff,” Falade said.
Also, Mrs Motunrayo Elegberun, from the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigerian (MAN), Ogun chapter, said that the burden of electricity charges would fall on industries.
She noted that some of their members had challenges of transformers and other utilities for their daily production.
While stressing the need for electricity tariff review, Engr. John Ayodele said that the only way there would be improvement in Nigeria and better service delivery was for cost reflective tariffs in energy consumption.
He noted that the upward review would guarantee steady supply of electricity and constant maintenance of infrastructure.
According to him, it will encourage investors to invest in the sector and remove government subsidies, saying that government has said it can no longer subsidise the energy sector.
Ayodele, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of IBEDC, said energy theft, energy loss during transmission and other factors, like refusal to pay electricity bill by consumers, were undermining the performances of the company.
“I cannot agree with you that Nigerians don’t want a tariff change. What they deserve is better service and this can only come with a price.
“So if the government is not subsidising, it is better we get something that is cost-reflective, where investors can make enough money to reinvest again.
“The essence of tariff change is to make sure that the system itself gets to a level where it can pay for itself,” Ayodele said.
He further said for the nation to do better, it had to reflect on how business was done and how the nation should be moved forward.
Mr Musiliu Oseni, Chairman of the three-man panel of NERC that presided over the hearing, said that the commission would continue to perform its mandate to enhance customer satisfaction and development of Nigeria.
He noted that the commission invited the stakeholders as part of its mechanisms to ensure that all parties involved were satisfied.
Oseni said that all the submissions, feedback and comments on the performances of IBEDC and NERC would be looked into and addressed adequately.
Oseni said that the review was because of the investment the discos had made and to improve service delivery.
“We exist because of you; no consumer, no disco; no disco, no TCN; no TCN, no Gencos; and without all of them, no Nigerian electricity supplying industry and no Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
“NERC has capped the estimated billings to ensure that consumers are billed adequately.
“We understand the pain of the consumers in terms of estimated billings, and to curb this, the commission states that the amount of energy a consumer consumed should be calculated at the end of the month and payment made on that.
“It is not completely true that it is N1,800 for estimated billings, because it varies from one business unit to the other and from one disco to another.
“What we are doing is to ensure that no consumer pays more than his neighbour who has the same consumption profile,” Osenì said. (NAN)

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