The Senate Committee on Privatization and Commercialization has expressed its desire to wade into the challenges leading to the shortfall of about N900 billion in the Nigerian electricity sector. The committee is working on a bill that would prescribe strict punishment for electricity thieves and vandals before the end of 2016. The bill, according to the Senate, will enable a law to crack down on those involved in stealing electricity and those defaulting on bill payments.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Ben Bruce, while on oversight visit to Eko Electricity in Lagos, lamented the liquidity challenges in the sector. He said, these needed the intervention of the government, operators and consumers and reiterated that the electricity sector would need monthly funding of N62 billion to cover its liquidity crisis and provide regular electricity in the sector. He assured that the committee would also ensure the prompt payment of government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) electricity outstanding debts of over N100 billion.
Bruce said that the Committee is aware of the expectations of Nigerians from the electricity companies as well as the challenges facing the sector.
He said that the Committee in its oversight visits has noticed that the major problem confronting not just Eko DISCO but also other DISCOs is energy theft and vandalism of power equipment. Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of (EKEDC), said that the DISCO had spent N18.5 billion on the plant since privatization, covering upgrades of electricity facilities, acquisition of new technologies, and smart meters to enhance service delivery to the network.
He emphasized the need for stringent punishment for electricity thieves and vandals. “Some people are deliberately stealing electricity through illegal connections and if government can make it a criminal offence for anybody that cheats or steals electricity, it will indeed be very helpful.” he added. Amoda also wants government to provide a special foreign exchange intervention for the electricity distribution companies.