02 August 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Minister of Power, Prof. Barth
Nnaji, says it is criminal for any Power Holding Company of Nigeria,
PHCN, official to demand for money from electricity consumers to replace wooden electricity poles with concrete ones before installation of pre-paid meters.
The minister made the clarification while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over on Wednesday by Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
Nnaji was reacting to allegations that PHCN officials were demanding for between N20,000 and N30,000 from consumers to effect the swap.
He said poles were public property and consumers should report any PHCN officials that demanded for money to his office.
The minister, however, explained that the exception to the directive was only if the poles were within the premises of a company or a large estate.
“The poles are not owned by individuals unless they are within the property of a company or very large estate, otherwise, the poles tend to be public ownership which means PHCN-owned and therefore, they should not ask for money to change poles.
“Changing poles from wooden to concrete is simply about stability to ensure that they remain in place for much longer period, but anybody that is being asked to pay money should report to us,” the minister said.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, recalls that as part of the reform of the power sector, government increased electricity tariff and introduced pre-paid meters for all consumers.
Every consumer with analogue PHCN meter is expected to change to the new pre-paid meter, free of charge, for easy payment for the facility.