INDISCRIMINATE billing of power consumption by Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC has continued to generate ill feelings and anger worrisome to its customers. The company’s operations cover, Delta, Edo and Ondo states.
MORE worrisome is the erratic power supply in states covered by its irrespective operation and what is being paid into the covers of the company for energy consumed.
THIS has continued to be a daily discourse in the states. Irrespective of the data released on the power generated, people are asking rhetorically “Where is the electricity?
WHILE the power supply is inadequate, the pains are more exacerbated by the crazy bills customers received from the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC monthly
FOR those with prepaid metres, their pains are lessen, but to the vast majority of customers without prepaid metres who are billed on estimation, they pay as much as N30 000 monthly This is barefaced fraud and that is what many Nigerians are exposed to every day by the refusal of the DisCos to provide them with prepaid meters.
MANY homes in Ondo State and some states covered by BEDC, scores of consumers groan over what they described as ” exorbitant” and crazy bills” despite poor power supply. Officials of the company, we observe have been more daring, inflicting pains on innocent customers by disconnecting defaulting consumers even when given a short notice. God save them if they failed “to water their palms” to the tune of at least, N2,000 they would be in darkness for only God knows when.
UNFORTUNATELY, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, has been very ineffective in forcing the pace of attitudinal change among the power firms. Many deadlines for mass metering of customers have been set and flouted with impunity by the pampered DisCos, to which NERC has not had any robust or effective response. Thus, providing meters to customers has become a privilege instead of a matter of routine.
OFFICIALLY, it is estimated that less than 50 per cent of the electricity consumers identified in the areas covered were provided with prepaid meters.
The corollary is that many Nigerians remain unmetered and are thus condemned to the heist called estimated billing.
THE lackadaisical attitude of BEDC has not gone without complaints. Governor of Edo State, Mr. Obaseki has not hidden his displeasure. He has even canvassed for the termination of BEDC contracts. Ditto, there had been demonstrations against the company in states like Edo and Delta while there are pockets of demonstration at Owo in Ondo State.
NIGERIA is in this mess owing to the shoddy nature of unbundling of the Power Holding to the Discos five years ago. The company was privatized in a hurry and in questionable, shoddy and dubious manner. The federal government sold the company to their stooges who had no experience in power management, by inserting stringent conditions in the contract making it difficult for it to be revoked.
THE issue of politics has dogged this sector from time immemorial. From ECN, NEPA, PHCN and now BEDC, it has been poor service to customers, corruption of the highest order and lack of transparency. At the sector, facilities are in hinge and could no longer service the distribution of electricity to the teeming consumers. It has been observed that in the last 50years, all the facilities have not been serviced, maintenance of facilities in zero, overhauling of the sector neglected, thereby contributing to the collapse of the system every time.
EVER since licence was issued to BEDC, it has shown that it lacks the needed technical expertise to make success out of the business. It has been garbage in, garbage out. The investor rushed into the business with the intention to make money in its coverage areas and not to improve power.
THE HOPE therefore calls ‘on the Federal Government to take a second look on the licence granted BEDC. Our position is that since the company could not meet the expectations of the customers, its licence should be revoked immediately and given to competent company that’s willing to invest and improve on the sector.
THE people and government covered by the company have expressed their disgust over poor service delivery, erratic billing and epileptic power supply. We therefore call on government to urgently look into the issue, look into the contract signed and those that have not live to expectation their contract should be revoked. Whoever must be licence must be competent and have the financial capability to invest in the sector. Installation of prepaid metres at various homes should be free and should be a priority by BEDC. The process whereby a customer would buy a prepaid metre at exorbitant price, maintain the metre when damage and the BEDC only come monthly to collect money should be discontinued. It is tantamount to a rip off and exploitation of the highest order.
AGAIN, the recent bill passed by the House of Representatives, prohibiting and criminalising estimated billing and proposing one year jail term and a fine of N 1million for defaulters is in the right direction. The federal government should follow the law to a logical conclusion and those contravening the law should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
SECTION 68 to 70 are some of the amendments to the principal Act. Section 68 states “(1) Estimated billing methodology is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.”
WE are of the opinion that there should not be sacred cow, any DISCO company engaging in estimated billing should be prosecuted.