The excesses of electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOS in Nigeria are well documented. There are several reports of cases of over-billing by the distributors through estimated bills. Organisations and private consumers are compelled to pay estimated bills for times there was no power supplies. They had been abandoned to bear the pains alone without concern from the authorities.
But the declaration by the Acting Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr Anthony Akah signals an end to that era of “official extortion”. Dr Akah said his commission would henceforth punish any distribution company that is caught with estimated billing. As a matter of fact, he stated that the commission has set up all necessary regulatory mechanisms, including monitoring to receive complaints from victims of estimated billing and proceed to punish any company that fails to obey the NERC regulations on estimated billing.
“It is totally unacceptable for any electricity distribution company to estimate any un metered customer without strict adherence to NERC regulations on estimated billing,’’ Akah said this while receiving President of Nigeria Association for Energy Economics NAEE, Professor Wumi Iledare at his Abuja office. He explained that NERC had gone further to partner Consumer Protection Council because of its nationwide platform to deal with issues on consumer complaints and this would strengthen NERC’s mechanism to protect consumers.
The Chairman said, NERC is mindful of Nigerians, especially the un-metered customers, over the vexing issue of alleged wrongful billing or crazy estimated billings adding, “To that extent as a regulator, we have set up all necessary regulatory mechanisms, including monitoring, asking Nigerians to submit such complaints with evidence to our various offices.”
He attributed the act of estimated billing to poor metering of the consumers, recalling that GENCOS, DISCOS and TCN went through privatisation roughly about 30 months ago. He also said that where the DISCOS did not give consumers meters within 60 days, DISCOS could not estimate their bills or disconnect them.
Akah said the NERC’s core mandate is to protect its consumer’s interest and at the same time, provide conducive business atmosphere for the investors. He used the visit to appeals to pipeline vandals to refrain from pipelines destuctions because the act affects everybody in the country, adding that the decline in power generation was partly due to vandalism.