Portharcourt Electricity distribution company yesterday flagged off their National Mass Metreing Program in the hopes that it will go a long way in eradicating the issues that are associated with estimated billing.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had earlier last month released funds and guidelines for accessing the funding for the mass metering programme recently announced by the federal government in a bid to close the 10,000, 000 metering gap in the country.
The 10 distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria would embark on Metreing customers in their network with locally assembled metres as the CBN has barred the importation of fully assembled meters and prohibited bringing infrastructure from outside the country that already exists within.
The Objectives of the scheme is to increase Nigeria’s metering rate, eliminate estimated billing which customers refer to as ‘crazy bills’ and strengthen the local meter value chain by increasing local meter manufacturing, assembly and deployment capacity.
This is aimed at supporting the country’s economic recovery by creating jobs in the local meter value chain, reducing collection losses and increasing financial flows to achieve 100 per cent market remittance obligations of the Distribution companies.
Earlier in the year , in April the National Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the implementation of reviewed electricity tariffs in line with the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2015) which reflects increases that were supposed to have been implemented between 2016 and 2018, but were not.
This recently concluded upward tariff review was said to have been necessary because of illiquidity issues plaguing the power sector. Metre Assets Providers (MAPs) who are external third party contractors were initially given the mandate to metre every electricity consumption households in the country.
This Metreing exercise is expedient at this moment. Electricity consumers have complained of incessantly high bills which is generally referred to as crazy billing. Some customers get high bills even when they stay at home and use the light for very few hours of the day . Certain Communities with bad or vandalized transformers are sometimes served bills. Like Mr Aniefiok Umoh living in Victory Way Calabar, a Customer of PHED remarked “They gave us high estimated bill even as our transformer has not been working for two months now”.
The issue of bypass and other sabotages would minimise with metre installation. The Nigerian power sector needs an infrastructure overhaul and not only upward review of tariff for a population that is plagued with multi-dimensional poverty. The implemented revised service reflective tariff is even more expensive for Residential consumers by over 17%.
Yesterday, PHED flagged off the National Mass Metering Programme(NMMP) at its Corporate Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Among those present at the PHED- NMMP flag off ceremony were the MD/CEO Dr Henry Ajagbawa, the Honourable Commissioner, Rivers State Ministry of Power, Hon.Damiete Miller represented by Director Power, Engr. Lucky Anama, Secretary, NERC Forum Office, Rivers State, Pamela Akubue. CEOs of PHED MAPs, Armese and Holly, Representatives of Rivers State Civil Society Organization, community leaders and customers.