Reactions have continued to trail the claim made last week by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja, that only 44.06 per cent of registered electricity consumers in the country have no meters.
While Nigerians have accepted the introduction of the pre-paid meters with open arms, they still lament its non-availability, which result in high estimated billings.
Energy consumers, in separate interviews with Daily Independent, faulted the statement as many claimed they still do not have pre-paid meters, several years after paying for them.
Mr Shittu Lawal, Assistant General Manager, Customer Service Standard, had disclosed at a public hearing organised by NERC on the establishment of Independent System Operator and Capping Estimated Billings in the Power Sector, that the meters have been installed in many homes.
Lawal had noted that metering was a critical component of the electricity value chain, as it serves as a parameter for quantifying energy delivered and utilised.
According to him, Section 1(1) of the Meter Reading, Billing and Cash Collection Regulation, provides guidance on why and how estimation should be done.
The NERC boss added that the commission has taken a number of steps to address the metering gap in the sector.
“It is, therefore, imperative that every electricity consumer should be effectively metered to enable fair and transparent billing to take place,” he stressed.
Lawal noted that in spite of the provisions made for distribution companies to recover all costs in the Multi Year Tariff Order, there was still minimal roll-out of meters.
“While the efforts at accelerated metering has proved abortive, the customers still groan under high estimated billing that are often not related to the energy supplied,” he said.
Contrary to Lawal’s disclosure, Daily Independent checks revealed that many consumers lament their inability to procure the pre-paid meters, having paid the statutory fee of N25,000 for single phase and N55,000 for three-phase, as the case might be.
Kelechi Uzor, a resident of Lekki, Lagos State, said because a meter was yet to be delivered to him, he continued to receive exorbitant billing.
According to him, “presently, I am wondering what to do, as I have been given a bill running into N250,000, despite the fact that we have not been having constant supply of electricity for months now.”
Another consumer, Adejoke Opeyemi, a teacher residing in Ojodu, also in Lagos, lamented that she had paid for prepaid meter over a year ago. It has neither been delivered nor installed, adding that her home has continued to receive high estimated bills meanwhile.
“In the last six months, there have been inexplicable bills, yet no regular electricity supply to prove that we consumed such an amount.”
Opeyemi continued: “We used to receive N12,000 and N12,500 bills before now, but for the past eight months, it has been hovering between N19,000 and N21,000. We still pay the same amount when there is no regular light, which is unfair.”
Steve Opouri, a business centre operator in Shomolu, said he recently visited several PHCN offices to collect the new pre-paid meter but to no avail.
Most customers are willing to pay, he said, “but the meters are not available for installation. Go house-to-house in Lagos and tell me where you will see the pre-paid-meters.”
Commenting of the distribution figure noted by the NERC, Opuori wondered for example, “how many houses are using the pre-paid meters in the state?”