Consumer groups worry over state of DisCos
Consumer groups in the country’s power sector have expressed worry over the state of the power distribution companies (DisCos) in recent years.Commenting on the state of Nigeria’s power sector and the arguments being put forward by DisCos, the President, Consumer Rights Advancement Organisation (CRADO), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said although some conditions were hidden in the sale contracts to DisCos, their attitude over the years had shown some sort of insincerity.
One of those areas, he highlighted, was on the case of the Cash Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI), adding that the urge by DisCos to want to make profit from the initiative was regrettable. “In fact, DisCos should ensure they don’t make profit from metering; but they were not sincerely with CAPMI. Also, the love for estimated billing for consumers was another area the DisCos got it wrong. They were not sincere because they wanted to continue with estimated billing,” he said.
Ogunbanjo said with local meter manufacturers making significant efforts to produce meters locally, the DisCos should have had no problems metering consumers, adding that their focus would rather be on growing their revenue stream through estimated billing.He added: “Since DisCos were not sincere in their dealings with consumers, their complain about inadequate finance to the Federal Government should not be taken seriously. More so that now, it is the consumer that bears the technical and commercial losses they 9DisCos) incur.”
The CRADO President maintained that the gross indiscipline seen in the electricity value chain, especially with regard to energy theft, is largely due to compromise on the side of power sector workers, who capitalize on the weakness of the system to perpetrate unruly acts. “The DisCos should find a way a way to manage their challenges,” he stressed.
Also commenting, the President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) and member, Lagos State Consumer Protection Council Board, Sola Salako-Ajulo, said every party involved in the transfer of ownership of the distribution arm of the value chain to the DisCos, should be held responsible for the current setback in the sector.
She said: “it is unfortunate that the power firms are not looking at the areas where they are violating the rights of consumers. Consumers are being exploited and frustrated on daily basis in their relationships with the DisCos. People are forced to pay far more than what they consume.
“DisCos need to address the shortcomings in their dealings with consumers.”She said to finance DisCos again with funds from government would amount to overburdening Nigerians whose taxes would be used for the purpose as well as some parts of their income used to settle electricity charges from the DisCos.“Let consumers pay only for what they use. It is absolutely unfair to take money from a customer for what he or she did not consume,” Salako-Ajulo stressed.