Nigeria: Not yet uhuru for electricity consumers

Electricity transformer17 December 2013, Lagos – The excitement that greeted the handing over of power distribution and generation companies, created out of PHCN, to private owners, is fast dwindling as consumers still groan over epileptic power supply and high tariff.

The decision of the federal government to privatise the power sector, and the subsequent assurance by the new owners that it would be a swell regime for consumers, elicited hope, when the companies were finally handed over. Given the poor state of power supply before the present regime, which had affected businesses across board, the excitement was understood.

Few weeks after taking over, the tone of the song is beginning to change because nothing seems to have changed in electricity supply compared to what was obtainable a few months ago. However, while a few people are of the opinion that it is too early to judge the performance of the new owners, many have condemned their approach, which tends to give priority to revenue generation over service delivery. Among other things, consumers are concerned over implementation of high tariff when nothing has been done to bring about improvement in the sector.

Although the management of one of the new owners; Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company (IEDC), stated from day one that power consumers should not expect immediate change in generation and supply, consumers expected the new investors to have started with upgrading of infrastructure before distribution of bills. The IEDC management had argued that there was a big challenge that would take time to overcome. Displaying a bill that was recently issued by Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Juwel Peter, a welder at Abule Egba area of Lagos, described the new investors as desperate businessmen who are desperate to make their money back.

According to him, “Much as I agree that they are businessmen who are out to make profit, one would have expected the new owners to have invested a certain amount to infrastructure upgrading so that consumers who have suffered for long would heave a sigh of relief. As I talk, nothing has changed; in fact things are worse these days.”

Promise and Expectation At the taking over point, government and the new owners promised that the new era would be the end of the perennial crisis bedeviling the power sector. For instance, the Vice Chairman, IEDC, Mr. Olatunde Ayeni, expressed the optimism that electricity consumers would witness a new dawn.

– This Day

About the Author