03 March 2014, Abuja – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has inaugurated the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) forum office to protect vulnerable electricity consumers from exploitation by service providers.
Speaking during the inauguration at the weekend, the Chairman of NERC, Dr Sam Amadi said the office was the second level of appeal in the chain of consumer complaints.
Amadi said that issues beyond the forum were to be handled at the final appeal stage by NERC.
The NERC boss, who was represented by agency’s Commissioner in charge of Government and Consumer Affairs, Dr. Abba Ibrahim also stated that the office would significantly reduce the incidence of protracted and expensive litigations.
He congratulated the newly inaugurated forum members who had been chosen to serve in this national assignment.
“Just a year ago, the Ikeja customer’s forum was commissioned. This shows the commitment of NERC towards effective consumer’s right on electricity supply chain to reform the sector. The focus is for the benefit of electricity consumers in Nigeria. There is a history of very poor electricity service and high level of inefficiency within the electricity sector, which calls for the reform which commenced in 2001, while most of the agenda has been achieved by privatising the power sector,’’ he said.
Amadi said the inauguration of the customers’ forum was to ensure that electricity customers had value for their money.
“I am aware they were chosen based on their qualifications, integrity and depth of experience. This call to duty will require transparency, teamwork, fairness, consistency and the deployment of their professional experience. I wish you the best of luck and God’s guidance in the discharge of your assignment,’’ he said.
He said the commission would strive to ensure that vulnerable consumers were fully protected from exploitation by service providers.
“Vital consumer issues like billing, metering, connectivity, price often created disputes between consumers and the service provider. In line with the Commission’s mandate as provided in Section 32, 80, 83 and the powers conferred on it in Section 96 (1) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, NERC has developed the Customer Complaints Redress Mechanism for handling customers’ complaints,’’ Amadi said.
Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of EKEDC, Mr. Oladele Amoda, said the company was poised towards the implementation of rules and regulations that promote best practices and customer satisfaction.
Amoda, however, urged customers within the network to avoid contributing money for repairs of transformers, cable, and power installations.
According to him, vandalism has been a major challenge of the company and urged all customers to join in the fight against vandals.
“We have told our customers that henceforth nobody should contribute money for anybody be it staff in the name of buying or repairing of transformers, cable and power installations,’’ he said.
He said that the focus of the company was to have additional 400 megawatts off-grid power in the shortest possible time.
He said that despite the customers complaints office, the company still addressed customers complaints internally to ensure customers satisfaction.
The Chairman of West Power & Gas Limited, owners of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Charles Momoh, said the company had unveiled plans to invest N42 billion to transform the facility and improve its distribution network in five years.
Momoh, who was represented by a director of the company, Mr Tunji Olowolafe, said the money would be invested in metering, cleaning up of the system, cabling, transformers and making sure that everything was in line with what had been specified.
“We have the responsibility to light up Lagos and keep it lit. This is the task before us which we must do and do profitably. It is our aim to develop a partnership with Lagos State Government over the issue of power supply. We are aware that the state government is aggressively working on the power supply situation in the state to enable it pursue its cardinal developmental programmes for the benefit of its citizens,” he said.
– Ejiofor Alike, This Day