As part of efforts to ensure that implementation of the over 60 per cent hike in electricity charges by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC) does not meet stiff resistance from the consumers, electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) have commenced sensitization campaigns on the new structure in their respective zones. For instance, Eko Electricity Distribution Plc., (EKDC) in Lagos state has commenced enlightenment of all electricity consumers on the new electricity tariff within its jurisdiction.
EnergyNews gathered that EKDC has carried out sensitization campaigns in parts of its zone including Agbara, Ojo Badagry, Suru-Lere, Mushin, and Ijora with a purpose to keep the people abreast with the functions of the new structure in their bid to justify the tariff increment. The company, also plans to take the campaign to Apapa, Festac Town, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lagos Island, Lekki, Ajah and Ibeju-Lekki parts of the state within the same week.
The Chief Executive Officer, (EKDC) Oladele Amoda said that, “We have gone back to meet the consumers, to let them know what the tariff will look like and what we are going to do with the increment,” He added that “After deliberating on this issue, the consumers were impressed with the reason behind the new tariff and assured us that they would pay, if electricity supply is regular.’’
EKDC is not alone in the last minute campaigns. Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, IKDC, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company are also among those in the sensitization campaign. The idea is to have an improved level of communication, customer care and a higher quality of service to cushion the effect of the increased tariff, and increase its understanding and acceptability across the nation.
In the Lagos division, residential consumers with single phase meter who were previously paying N15 per kilowatt now have to pay N24 from February 1, when the new tariff charge took effect, while residential consumers with three phase meters will pay N25 per kilowatt. Residential customers (R2 customers) in Eko and Ikeja electricity distribution areas will no longer pay N750 fixed charges. It added that they will be getting N10 and N8 increase respectively in their energy charges. Similarly, the burden of N800 and N750 fixed charges would be lifted off the shoulders of Kaduna and Benin electricity consumers. These consumers will see an increase of N11.05 and N9.26 respectively in their energy charges,” the commission stated. Also, residential customer classification (R2) in Abuja Electricity Distribution Company will no longer pay N702 fixed charge every month. Their energy charge will increase by N9.60. Many have described the policy as anti people as they point to issues of overestimated billing without electricity consumption.
Although, the NERC has explained that fixed charges would be removed for all classes of electricity consumers under the new structure, the concern in some quarters is that the timing of the policy is wrong, especially at a time when more than half of the consumers are yet to be metered. How the Discos and the regulatory agency intend to isolate estimated charges in the new dispensation without prepaid meters remains to be seen.