Disquiet over order for mass metering of Nigerians
• NERC lists conditions for electricity tariff review
Attempt by the Federal Government to end arbitrary electricity billing is facing a fresh challenge, as stakeholders, yesterday, faulted the viability of the announcement by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to mass-meter over five million Nigerians.
The James Momoh-led commission had in a release, said President Muhammadu Buhari “directed that there should be a nationwide mass metering programme in an effort by the Federal Government to put a stop to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity.”
The information, which was also tweeted by Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, Momoh and corroborated by the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, is raising dust on the ground of alleged lack of modalities, as similar directives had remained unimplemented since the privatisation of the sector since 2013.
With inherent challenges facing a recently introduced Meter Asset Providers (MAP) policy, where the cost of the facility was transferred to consumers, Momoh had stated that Buhari approved an import waiver amid a recent upward price review of about 40 per cent.
Indeed, with the need for local capacity and job creation, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the waiver, according to stakeholders, undermines the current administration’s commitment to local content.
Birthing at a time of uproar against exorbitant bills in face parlous supply, Momoh further disclosed that tariff reviews would only follow service-based principles.
He stated: “Under these service-based principles, DisCos will only be able to review tariff rates for customers when they consult with customers, commit to increasing the number of hours of supply per day and quality of service in addition to metering. There will be no estimated billing in strict enforcement of the capping regulations.”
According to the NERC’s report for the third quarter of 2018, out of a total of 8,310,408 active electricity customers nationwide, the power firms metered only 3,704,302 (44.6 per cent), leaving out 55.4 per cent of end-users.
The commission’s ex-chair, Dr. Sam Amadi, was unexcited about the announcement, pointing out it has always been part of the power sector plans.