Until electricity consumers settle an outstanding N80.6 billion debts owed the 11 power distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria, there may be no end to irregular power supply in the country.
This is the summation of top executive officers of major power distribution companies (Discos) in the country.
Of the said amount, the Discos wthin the Lagos axis are said to be bearing the brunt of more than 50 per cent of the total sum.
Disclosing this at the second ‘Electricity Consumers, Operators and Stakeholders Forum’, in Lagos on Saturday, the Discos said contrary to the impression being created in some quarters, power distribution is the most challenging aspect of the sector.
Said the chief executive of Shore Energy Distributing Company, Benin, Mr. Princewell Agbobvere: “The distribution subsector is meant to have direct dealings with all classes of consumers, most of who still see electricity products as publicly-run services, and which should not be paid for; or if it is to be paid at all, must be after consumption.
“That is, therefore, one of the reasons for the huge debts that have characterised the system.
“Of course, the percentage of the unpaid bills varies from one location to another.”
In his own comment, the CEO, EKo Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC), Mr. Oladele Amoda, disclosed that consumers, as at April 2017, had only paid about N3.5 billion (about 60 per cent) of the totalling bill of N6.8 billion owed his firm.
A senior manager with the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Simeon Soatan said the firm was owed more than N5.4 billion by electricity consumers, as at the end of first quarter of 2017.
But the officials concluded that it would be impossible guaranteeing improved power supply with such huge unsettled debts in the books.
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Collaborating the assertion further, Amoda said the electricity company was only able to recover part of the bills owed it through diligence on the part of the staff.
He stated: “The company has boosted effective power distributions to customers, yet majority of the customers refused payment.
“But despite the quantum of supply distributed to customers in recent months, large numbers of customers are yet to turn out for payment.
“We have equally recorded over N6.2 billion energy consumed by customers for the month of May, 2017, but we are yet to compute the final payment,’’ Amoda said.
On the government debts to the operators, through its Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) estimated at N60 billion, the operators said tha commiittee to reconcile government unsettled bills owed the discos had been set up.
They said that the operators currently rely on the promise made to them by the Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo, that a bill reconciliation committee is being set up.
Another key operator said that the Nigerian Police had stated that henceforth it would only pay electricity bills incurred by its stations, but not the ones from the barracks.
“This is unacceptable by us and we are awaiting the committee to taken off fully, as to reverse the police authorities on this”, the Eko Disco boss said.
On metering, he said over 20,800 meters had been rolled out within the Lagos zone, adding that there had been a policy approval of monthly installation to homes and offices, which have been maintaining good records with the discos.
The gathering was told that the discos had already come up with a billing method approved by the industry regulator for unmetered customers.
They said the approved new billing method would consider a number of factors, including customers’ consumption pattern over time and availability of power supply within the particular month for which the customers are to be billed.
But the EKEDC boss, as key speaker at the forum, urged communities to be vigilant and guard against the activities of vandals in their areas, adding that the company would work hand-in-hand with the police to ensure that the suspects and others would be duly prosecuted in court.
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