Electricity tariff hike must match quality service delivery – NERC boss

*Eko Distribution Company repays N8m to VGC residents

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

20 April 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Even as Nigerians anxiously await the proposed hike in the electricity tariff expected to kick-off by June 1, 2012, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has assured that such an increase in tariff would be based on a requisite improve in service delivery by distribution companies.

The Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, who stated this at a briefing on Thursday in Abuja, stressed that more efforts is also being made to shore up transparency in the billing system through a massive metering programme to be undertaken by distribution companies across the country.

According to him, “The new tariff we are proposing, which will take effect from June 1, would be predicated on service delivery. We are already moving in that direction to ensure that by June when the new tariffs take effect there are massive improvements in service delivery.

“We are also committed to ensuring that the new tariff regime would come in an environment of greater transparency and accountability. To that effect, we have included that as a condition that there should be massive metering of electricity consumers in the entire country. Presently a metering requirement committee is going around the country, and we expect their report soon on what we can do to enhance transparency in billing and metering across the country.

“NERC is confident that from our engagements with the distribution companies (DISCOs) over the past few months there are going to be massive improvements in the quality of service given to electricity consumers before that take-off of the new tariff,” Amadi added.

Amadi noted that although some DISCOs have achieved a high level of coverage for meters in cities, especially in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the national coverage for meters was still average.

He stated that, “There is an appreciable improvement in metering over the past few years. But, collectively, we don’t have more than 35 percent metering rate and that is what NERC and the DISCOs are presently focused on to ensure that we drastically improve the rate of metering and ensure greater transparency and collection in the sector.

He reiterated the NERC’s commitment to a value-driven electricity supply sector, even as he charged electricity consumers to bring complaints of poor service to the Commission’s attention for immediate redress.

Meanwhile, the NERC Chairman has disclosed that the Eko Distribution Company has agreed to pay back about N8 million in overcharged fees to residents of the Victoria Garden City, in Lagos State, following years of dispute over the legality of such charges in the face of poor service delivery.

“The Eko Distribution Company has complied with the order (of the court) to pay back the sum of N8 million to residents of the Victoria Garden City, through the association representing residents of the estate. This is in line with our commitment to ensure that fairness and remediation for electricity consumers at all times.”

He further disclosed plans by the Commission to open up more zonal forum offices, beginning with Kano and Kaduna states, to give more opportunity for electricity consumers to be able to complain and seek remediation whenever they feel underserved.

Also speaking at the briefing, the NERC Commissioner in charge of Marketing Competition and Rates, Mr. Eyo Ekpo, observed that the focus of the Commission was on ensuring that Nigerians got value for the electricity they pay for, even as he pointed out that the numerous reforms by the Federal government in the sector, especially the coming on stream of the various NIPP projects next year, would ensure an improvement in both the quantity and quality of power delivered to Nigerians.

According to him, “Nigerians must appreciate that this present administration is very committed to revamping decades of decay and inactivity in the power sector, and in the coming months and years, electricity consumers in the country would see a positive shift in electricity generation and distribution, and in the quality of service in this sector.”

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