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Experts insist on mass metering before implementation of new tariff

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Experts have criticised the implementation of the new electricity tariff structure and urged the Federal Government to ensure that electricity consumers are metered first before the commencement to eliminate outrageous billings.

Nigerians had heaved a sigh of relief when the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), announced plans to commence free distribution of meters but it was momentary, as distribution companies (DisCos) also announced the implementation of the revised service-based reflective tariff as approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) the following day.

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Given that the metering programme commenced on November 1, it is at the incubation phase, hence, only a few Nigerians have collected the ‘free’ meter as many are still at the registration stage.

Specifically, Dr. Oladayo Olakanmi of the Department of Electrical/Electronics, Faculty of Technology, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, in an interview with The Guardian stressed the need for the Federal Government to ensure that DisCos are alive to their responsibilities.

He said: “Without effective metering, consumers will be paying more for the energy they did not use. Ordinarily, before there would be any increment, the government ought to compel DisCos to meter their consumers. This will prevent crazy billings, which DisCos are enjoying at the expense of their consumers. The Federal Government needs to ensure DisCos live up to their responsibilities, rather than encouraging their sharp practices with obnoxious increment.”

Also speaking with The Guardian, the National Coordinator, All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum, Samuel Ilori, criticised the NERC, saying it is biased in its dealing with electricity consumers.

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Ilori also reiterated the need to stop estimated billing, adding that the September electricity bill from Ikeja Electric (IE) was outrageous, saying a member of the forum who lives in Ketu got an electricity bill of N111,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.

“That tariff is a fraud in which the Nigerian Government and the NERC decided to punish the masses because they believe they will not do anything. They believe that the masses will only make some noise and it will end there. The All Electricity Consumer group has done a lot to challenge the government that what they are doing in the power sector is nothing but a case of double jeopardy.

“The government has refused to force the DisCos to fulfill the power agreement they signed seven years ago. Till date, they cannot boast of even 50 per cent metering of consumers. All we have been receiving from the NERC is to force on us an unprecedented increase in tariff.”

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Before the commencement of the new tariff, Nigerians had complained about the outrageous bills from DisCos in recent months, and the situation would get even worse under the new tariff.

The Federal Government, through the NERC, had, on September 28, directed the suspension of the Service-Based Tariff (SBT) structure, which was earlier approved for the DisCos, following opposition from organised labour and civil society organisations (CSOs).

However, after negotiations with labour, the tariffs for customer categories D and E, with power supply below 12 hours daily, remain frozen, while band A will have a 10 per cent reduction from the initial September 1 rate. Customers under Band B will enjoy 10.5 per cent reduction while those in Band C will get up to 30 per cent discount.

The 11 DisCos, including Eko, Abuja, Ikeja, Ibadan, Kaduna, among others alerted their customers on the resumption of the revised rates.

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Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), in a statement, said: “Based on the revised SBT, customers under the service bands D and E will continue to pay the old tariff rates, while customers under the service bands A, B, and C will experience a certain percentage reduction in the marginal increase due to the transition to the SRT.

“It is important to note that meter tokens purchased will reflect the tariff immediately while the November consumption, which will be used to bill the post-paid customers in December, will reflect the new tariff. We want to assure our customers that EKEDC is fully committed to the improvement of power supply in all areas under its network as well as the sustenance of the electricity sector.”

Also, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), while announcing that it had begun the implementation of the revised service-based reflective tariff, said customers on the pre-paid platform will be the first to experience the revised tariff whenever they vend in the month of November. For the post-paid customers, the revised tariff will reflect on the electricity bills they receive at the end of November 2020.

“Kindly recall that the new tariff is divided into five bands and based on hours of supply to customers measured by the daily average availability of supply over a month. Customers on bands A, B & C will see some level of increase in their last month’s tariff as they vend, while customers on bands D & E have their tariff frozen.”

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