The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has called on electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to “meter” consumers who have paid for various types of meters since November 2013.
The acting chairman of NERC, Dr Anthony Akah, made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at a meeting with representatives of distribution companies.
“Before we conclude our investigation we want to use this opportunity to ask any distribution company that has collected money from any consumer since November 2013 for meter and has not metered him that it is a criminal offence.
“You can’t hold the consumers’ money.
“Between this time and the time we are verifying, find a way to go and meter these consumers, because the kind of complaints we get on our table every day is as huge as this.”
According to Akah, it is the responsibility of the distribution companies to provide meters to consumers in line with the tariff model all over the world.
He said Nigerian electricity consumers were desirous of constant electricity supply in the country.
“Nigerian consumers certainly need 24 hours light that is the most important thing they want to hear.”
He said the commission’s engagement with the consumers showed that they were dissatisfied with estimated billing rates, noting that they desired an end to unfair estimation.
He said the greatest challenge facing the commission as a regulator was metering, noting that efforts were on to mitigate the challenge.
“We must protect the consumers; there is no going back on our resolve to step up our monitoring mechanism to stop unfair billing of Nigerian consumers. It is grossly unfair.”
He said that NERC had written to the distribution companies requesting for clear information on the consumers metered over the years.
He said the commission was also mediating on the payment of debt owed by ministries, department and agencies to the companies with a view to making the MDAs pay the debt.
Representatives of distribution companies, at the forum identified the non-readiness of consumers and hostile environments as challenges in metering.