The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has revealed that over four millions electricity consumers are awaiting prepaid meters in the country.
The Acting NERC Chairman, Dr. Anthony Aka, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Uyo on Saturday.
Aka said that the commission had improved on metering system, but however, explained that the unavailability of meter manufacturing companies were hindering maximum provision of meters to Nigerians.
“You have to order them, you have to configured them and protect the system.
“You have to deploy the technical expertise to ensure that these meters are not bye passed. But as we speak today, theses meters are being bye passed,” he said.
He said that the commission would sanction electricity Distribution Company which failed to comply with directives relating to the distribution of prepaid meters.
“It is our responsibility to ensure compliance with these metering scheduled.
“We have our monitoring team following them and we want to make sure that if they don’t deploy the number of meter per month, per quarter or per year, we are going to sanction them severely for that,’’ Aka said.
He said, “the customer that do not have electricity meter and who feels that they gave him a wrongful billing for that month and has the right to reject that bill and he should only pay the last bill he accepted.”
He noted that any customer who paid for prepaid meter should be metered within 60 days of payment.
“If they don’t meter you, the electricity distribution company have no right to estimate you or bill you If you have given money to them and they have not given you meter after 60 days,” he said.
Aka said that NERC would ensure refunds were made to customers wrongly billed as well as install the new prepaid meter.
He decried the situation where PHEDC workers were attacked by customers in the area, saying that such act was grossly unacceptable.
“They are doing their legitimate job and for them to be harassed or interrupted in the course of doing their legitimate jobs, you are not helping to solve the problems of electricity in the country,” he said.
He reiterated the company’s commitment that electricity consumers were not exploited for light they did not consumed.
Aka explained that electricity distribution company was purely a private-driven sector and not a government sector.
He sad that government was only providing a regulatory framework and enabling environment.
He noted that fixed charges in electricity billing did not exist again but had been recalibrated as part of the charges.
According to him, if there is no electricity, distribution company should not charge the customers.
“We as a regulators listen to Nigerians, we remove the fixed charges and recalibrated it into the energy charged.
“What it means now is that if I don’t have light, you don’t have any right to charge me, If I travel for three months, you have no right to come back to my house and charge me,’’ he said.
He decried the situation where consumers provide resources to restore faulty power installations or transformers to the company.
He said that it was the obligation of the electricity distribution company to provide for the infrastructure, adding that the tariff paid by consumers covers infrastructure installations.
He urged electricity distribution company staff not to compel customers to provide resources to restore faulty power installations in the country.
“However, if communities want that, they should enter into agreement with us as a regulator being a witness to that and to ensure that the cost of that agreement should be refund over time by the distribution company,’’ Aka said.
He gave Nigerians the assurance that the regulatory commission would continue to balance the interest of customers and that of the operators in the state.
NAN recalled that Akwa Ibom Government is currently constructing a prepaid meter manufacturing company in Onna Local Government Area of the state.