24 April 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – A committee set up by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to investigate the metering situation in the country has disclosed that there exists a wide gap in effective billing with less than 50 percent of electricity consumers having active billing meters.
Speaking at a briefing with journalists on Monday, Chairman of the committee, Mr. Bamidele Aturu said that it was essential for the country to have a standard billing system for electricity consumers.
He noted that general complaints coming from all regions of the country visited by the committee are that of insufficient electricity supply and sharp and corrupt practices from PHCN officials.
“But the most worrisome for the committee is that there is a very huge metering gap in all the zones that we visited. As a matter of fact by the time we will come out with our final statistics we will be able to say categorically the number of PHCN customers that are adequately metered.
“We can say that less than 50 percent of the customers have active meters,” he stated.
Aturu stressed that the huge metering gap is “like an emergency because it appears that government has its own reform programme and for the committee is important that PHCN is able to adequately meter Nigerian citizens before even some of those reforms are properly undertaken.”
He noted that also that customers’ complaint about the dichotomy between rich and poor customers in the allocation of lines as neighbourhood with rich residents are allocated ‘hot lines’ to the detriment of others.
He explained that the Committee visited the five geo-political zones of South West, South-South, South East, North East and North West, adding that in some of the zones “especially in the North East electricity supply was almost nonexistent and the customers were asking how you can be talking of metering when there is no supply at all. Yola is a very critical example of the need for government to look at the problem of electricity supply and tackle the challenge.”
He stressed the importance of having adequate redress mechanism that allows electricity consumers the opportunity of having their complaints heard and addressed quickly.
He noted that though PHCN officials blamed lack of adequate funding for the distribution companies inability to provide consumers with meters, it is pertinent to have a standard measurement for electricity consumption.