Connect with us


Why Nigerians Can’t Get Pre-paid Metres


Why Nigerians Can’t Get Pre-paid Metres

By Cosmas Omegoh (Lagos), Emmanuel Adeyemi (Lokoja), Billy Graham Abel, (Yola), Isaac Anumihe (Abuja), Gyang Bere (Jos), Oluseye Ojo (Ibadan), Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky (Benin), Sola Ojo (Kaduna), and Geoffrey Anyanwu (Enugu)

At the moment, having electricity meter, particularly the pre-paid, at every home, looks like a luxury. Everything about the idea is seemingly controversial. Many who have been yearning for the prized item cannot get it and don’t even know how to go about it. To them, to be metered is a hard science or so it seems. They are unhappy with the so-called estimated bills being dumped on them by the various Distribution Companies (DISCOs) across the country, insisting that the practice is fraught with fraud. But they don’t know how to get out of the maze.

Ironically, there are individuals who are refusing the meters, it was learnt. They are either used to the old ways or don’t want to pay for what they have consumed.

These are some of the twist and turns the various electricityDistribution Companies across the country have been trying to explain. But everything points to the huge burden facing the smooth distribution of electricity meters across the country.

It took the intervention of the Senate lately for the DISCOs to say what they know and how far they have fared and failed with the meter-for-all initiative.

The Senate at its committee level on March 26, 2021, was furious that the Federal Government target of ensuring that over six million homes have meters had been without progress. It blast the Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the DISCOs for poor performance of the Mass Metering Project despite a whopping N33.4 billion sunk into the project by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Senator Gabriel Suswam, PDP Benue North East, who led the Senate Committee on Power, delivered the non-performance verdict in Abuja during an interactive session with officials of the NERC and the various DISCOs.
NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba, an engineer, who struggled to explain how his agency had fared with the project, disclosed that it had been fighting to deliver one million meters to houses between October 2020 and April 2021, admitting that the scheme had only recorded 13 per cent implementation as of March 19, 2021.

He said: “While 403, 000 out of the targeted one million meters, have been delivered to the various DISCOs, only 127, 000 have been installed, representing 13 per cent performance,” citing a load of challenges.

Recall that the Federal Government in a bid to ensure that 6 million households have meter across five years, last November, rolled out the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). Earlier, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) was lunched which allowed for manufacturers/vendors to procure and install the meters.

But the slow pace of the free meter initiative had led to the Federal Government considering both schemes running concurrently. And by that, meters would be procured and supplied through the NMMP scheme. And this would allow the DISCOs to procure meters directly from local manufacturers and then have a new contract that will encompass both installation and maintenance.

But for the average electricity consumer, every talk about metering which does end in delivering the equipment, and closing the chapter on estimated billing is gaseous. This much was agreed to by the Senate, which was emphatic that the pace of delivery was poor and unacceptable.

Against this backdrop, our correspondents reached out to many of the DISCOs to find out how they have been grappling with the task before them and their responses were revealing.

Customers reject meters as Yola DISCO meters 434, 206, targets all

The Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) says it has already metered about 434, 206 customers across its business unit of Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba and Borno states, adding that it has sights at metering all consumers in the area.

The company said that its ongoing aggressive metering was in line with the Federal Government’s NMME, which targets to ensure that consumers within Yola, Taraba, Yobe and Maiduguri are all metered as soon as possible.

This was made known by Kingsley Nkemneme, the senior manager, Corporate Communications, YEDC.

Nkemneme explained that the company aims to meter every customer registered in its network in order to ensure Energy Audit Accountability.

He said: “YEDC has already begun an aggressive metering across all our business units targeting all customers in all the states under our business franchise except for Borno State where we have been having power challenges for the past eight weeks.

“For Maiduguri, we have meters on ground, but we have not been able to kickstart the process of metering due to the power challenges in the area.

“This is the third month since we began the aggressive metering of customers and we have been able to meter over 435, 206 customers and we are looking forward to doing more.

“This metering project is a Federal Government project called the National Mass Metering Exercise programme.”

On the challenges encountered so far, Nkemneme said: “Surprisingly, we have been having a strange problem of customers rejecting meters.

“We have had incidences where we would install a meter and after few weeks, the customers would come around demanding that we remove them, but the law demands that we disconnect them altogether.

“The problem with most consumers is that they still maintain their old habits of electricity consumption without restraint. Most of them do not want to pay for what they consume; they use a lot of power-draining appliances like electric cookers, boilers, etc, so they usually complain that the meters consume (record) too much, but it is actually their rate of consumption.

“The meters installed are done by accredited companies who have to satisfy the standards of the Nigerian Electricity Management Service Agency (NEMSA)

“So, consumers should embrace the change and accept the meters and adjust their habits of electricity usage to save power and adopt the habit of using more energy-efficient equipment.”

Nkemneme assured consumers that the ongoing metering exercise is absolutely free of charge and they are not expected to pay anything, noting that the company is doing its best to see that everyone within its business franchise is metered appropriately.

Abuja DISCO affected by COVID-19, meters 101,000 in Kogi

The General Manager, Corporate Communications of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Mr Oyebode Fadipe told Sunday Sun that AEDC is expected to meter about 600,000 customers out of its about 900,000 targeted customers.

“We have barely scratched the surface. The challenges are systemic. COVID-19 has impacted significantly on it. There is no doubt about it. Another challenge is that supply is not meeting with demand. Demand is more than supply. So, that is the challenge we are trying to solve,” he said.

He listed some of the challenges they are having as funding and foreign exchange, saying that these issues had led to constant demand for tariff reviews.

“Funding has always been an issue in the power sector because the power sector has only one source of income and that is the sale of electricity. So, that is what has brought about constant review of tariff and things like that.

“One of the things meter providers have to go through is forex. Right now you know what the dollar is to the naira. The reason I called it systemic is because whatever is happening to the general economy is also affecting the power sector,” he said.

On the deadline for the distribution of meters, Fadipe explained that the distribution is a 60-month or five-year project. So, it is a question of monitoring how much one is doing in a year.

“The National Mass Metering Project is a 60-month project. It is a five-year thing. So, it is a question of monitoring the extent you have done every year. Are you on track? These are the issues,” he explained.

He told our correspondent that AEDC had allocated 101, 000 prepaid meters to its customers in Kogi State alone.

According to him, out of that figure allocated for Phase Zero, AEDC had installed 30,496 covering the six area offices located in Lokoja, Kabba, Ayingba, Okene, Idah and Ankpa to be distributed to the customers .

However, it was learnt that over 456,000 customers have so far applied for the prepaid meters across the state, but Lokoja the state capital has the largest chunk of installed meters.

Fadipe noted that AEDC could have concluded the metering in Phase Zero in February, but meter providers went on strike because they were yet to be paid by the CBN.
He said although there were serious pressures from customers to provide more prepaid meters, the company was doing its best to ensure that every demand was attended to, adding that “we are still installing.”

Fadipe said that the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) had, however, been cancelled by the Federal Government and now replaced with National Mass Metering, NMM.

Read more on The Sun Website

Continue Reading
You may also like...
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in News



To Top
slot="4644831179" data-auto-format="rspv" data-full-width="">