The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has stated that the government is to supply three million prepaid meters to Nigerians. According to him, this was supposed to have been done since 2003 when the contract was awarded.
Meanwhile, metering faces a lot of challenges in the country as it is now. Some of which includes; incorrect data as regards the number of households in the country; little or no town planning before houses and buildings are constructed in most parts of the country; lack of conservation culture and bypassing of meters.
Fashola stated that the database shows a total of six million households in Nigeria which is definitely incorrect because we do have more. In categorizing households, we have R1 (which was for government subsidized housing which is not in use again), R2/R2S which is what most residential households fall under, R3, Prime and Maximum demand customers-which happen to be industries, mega churches and banks.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola Credit:Daily Post
With these different types of customers, it means everyone cannot be billed the same way. It also implies that the same type of meters cannot be installed in all of these premises as their power usage differs. As regards the prepaid meters, you pay for what you use but the issue of bypassing where a particular customer decides not to vend for a couple of months tends to increase the losses of the Discos.
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company has frowned at this development. In order to curb this alarming trend, those caught bypassing especially in Benin-city are disconnected and placed on direct billing (code 3) for as long as the Disco deem fit. This also may be one of the reasons why the Disco may be reluctant to release few available prepaid meters to customers because many of these customers have already piled up huge debts as estimated billing for direct connection and automatically think requesting for a prepaid meter will cancel out their debts once it is installed.
One thing electricity consumers must always have on their mind is the fact that any power distributed by any Disco in Nigeria must be accounted for by the Disco. Otherwise, they will run into huge debts as a utility company that derives revenue when people pay for what they use.
Regarding power theft, adopting whistle-blowing in the power sector will go a long way to reduce electricity stealing. Be your neighbor’s keeper. Report anyone suspected to be bypassing a meter or stealing power one way or the other.