The lower chamber of the National Assembly has begun an investigation into allegations by electricity consumers in the country over excessive charges being levied by power Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, made this disclosure while speaking on Wednesday at an investigative hearing organised by an ad-hoc committee set up by the House to curb excessive electricity charges by DISCOs.
The committee was set up following allegations that after the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the DISCOs hurriedly installed new sets of prepaid meters which gobble the units purchased much faster than the older prepaid meters.
Dogara explained that the House is carrying out the investigation in order to reduce the financial burden on Nigerians and to find a lasting solution to the crisis currently plaguing the nation’s energy sector.
“The House is aware of the financial hardship being experienced by most of our people, due to the high electricity charges by DISCOs. This has further compounded the difficulty brought about by the economic downturn in the country.
“We are, therefore, determined to get all the facts on the matter, with a view to addressing it,” he said.
The Speaker urged the committee and all stakeholders to be objective and ensure all allegations of fraud adopted by the DISCOs to exploit electricity consumers are unravelled.
“As a Parliament, we are obliged to be fair to both the service providers and the consumers in our Legislation,” Dogara added.
The House had begun a legislative hearing on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, 2004, to Prohibit and Criminalize Estimated Billing by Electricity Distribution Companies and Provide for Compulsory Installation of Pre-paid Meters to all Power Consumers in Nigeria.
The Bill, which was sponsored by the House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, and currently at the Committee stage, is expected to block the loopholes at which the DISCOs are allegedly cheating consumers.
Three weeks ago, during a public hearing organised by the committee to deliberate on the bill, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and all the DISCOs kicked against the bill.
The stakeholders noted that the bill when passed would negatively impact on the electricity situation in the country, adding that it could ruin the nation’s power sector.
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