Port Harcourt — The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, has charged the National Assembly to make a legislation criminalizing energy theft and vandlisation of electrical facilities in the country.
PHED explained that energy theft should not only be the concerns of distribution companies, but the concerns of all Nigerians, as it remains the only way services can be improved in the power sector.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PHED, Dr. Henry Ajagbawa, said this in Port Harcourt, while briefing journalists, lamented that the company loses over N2.5billon a monthly basis to energy theft.
Ajagbawa explained that the menace of energy theft has been so deep that, even workers under the company’s employment have been caught on several occasions carrying out illegal activities.
He urged the National Assembly to make a bill that would criminalize energy theft and punish offenders severely to serve as deterrent, regretting that metering has not improved the revenue of the Discos as a result of bypass and tampering.
According to him, “Nigerians should be fair to the distribution companies. Customers should stop tampering with our meters, it is energy theft. Energy theft is one problem we are facing. There is a lot of meter bypass in the system.
”They only way we and survive and improve on our services is when the customers pay their bills and stop meter bypass. Those involved in meter bypass we are coming after them and we will get what belongs to us. Those sabotaging us we will not allow them again.
”We need a legislation to criminalise energy theft and vandalisation of electricity facilities. If you criminalise it and make the consequences severe definitely, we will have it better. Nigerians should learn to pay for energy consumed.
”When we have our staff involved in any corrupt act we discipline them, and everyone caught in the act have been punished. We are taking drastic but humane steps to stop corruption among the staff and customers.
“We must criminalised bad behaviours. There must be a legislation to criminalised energy theft. If we have a law that says, energy thieves should be locked up in a psychiatric hospital for one year, I tthink that would serve as a deterrent.”
Ajagbawa, who denied the allegations by electricity workers union of planning to lay off 120 workers of PHEDC, disclosed that no sack letter has been signed nor issued, stating that the company was up-to-date in the payment of the salaries of its workers.
The PHED boss also assured of improved power supply in Port Harcourt and its environs, while soliciting for the support of all stakeholders.
He commended the Rivers State government for her contribution in the electricity sector, disclosing that the government has been instrumental in the construction of facilities to boost electricity supply in the state.
“I can assure you that there will be enhanced capacity in Port Harcourt, as we are working to evacuate and distribute additional 48MW.
“The has been improvement and more significant improvement is expected,” the PHED boss assured.