“For us, it is to ensure that we continue pursuing the goal of 24/7 power supply; so in doing reliable supply, we want to ensure that energy theft issue continue to go down, and we will continue to provide meters and enumerate our customers, while hoping that the government, on its side, continue to work with us.”
By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy on Friday promised to harmonise all laws concerning energy theft, and vandalism scattered in different laws into single bill to drive power industry.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Chairman of the committee disclosed this in Lagos during the committee’s oversight function to Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) on facts finding mission to know the state of power distribution and challenges.
According to Abaribe, “this visit would help us to clarify issues that are ongoing in estimated billings, lack of meters and other power challenges related issues.
“Our visit is also going to help us in policy formulation because we are also going to interact with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and with other relevant agencies.
“Clarification of issues is very necessary for us to understand exactly what is going on. Like I indicated during our meeting with the management of Eko Disco, there has been a counter-narrative that privatisation is a failure and there have even been an attempt by some persons that we should go back and take over the assets.
“Now, why we are here is to be sure; if it is not working, why is it not working? Who is at fault? What are the things that are supposed to be done, and those are the answers that we have come to seek, and, of course, Nigerians will get everything that will help them in making a good decision about whether it was a very good decision or not,” he said.
Abaribe said: What we are doing is that as of now, the response to energy theft, vandalism and others is scattered all over different laws and different areas in our laws, and so we want to see whether we can consolidate them into one bill and that will help everybody in the sector.
“It will also help Nigerians to know that if you, in any way, tamper with light or vandalise power equipment, that the penalties are very clear and cannot be applied at random.
“The reason why we are here is to interact with the power providers, and make sure that whatever they see as problems, we can help them resolve them for the interest of Nigerian public.
“We are quite satisfied with what we have heard; we know that they are operating under tremendous difficulties. And like we said, anybody who starts a business and the business starts at a loss, the cost of what you are giving is not what you are told to sell.
“it is a regulated industry, which means that you cannot charge more than what the government says you should charge. And so, if government is selling to you at N100, and now tells you to charge at N50, you are already at a loss.
“That is what we want to let Nigerians know; that there are some things that are in this regulated industry, which we need to resolve, and it is the resolution that has brought us here.” He said.
The chairman, however, assured the management of EKEDC to assist in ensuring that the outstanding debts of N20 million owed by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are paid directly from source.
He urged the Disco to ensure effective distribution of electricity to consumers within their network, adding that issues related to estimated billings and metering should be put at the front burners.
In his remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, commended the legislature for its support towards educating the general public on the efforts EKEDC is doing in ensuring adequate supply.
Fadeyibi called for legislation of stringent punishment and prosecution of offenders involved in the act of vandalism, energy theft and meter tampering.
He said that the legislation should also cover those tempering with public power facilities and building on right of way.
He appealed to the committee to assist in facilitating the payment of the MDAs’ debt as and when due and also appeal for the approval of special exchange rate for power Industry.
According to him, we have installed over 100,000 prepaid meters in the last five years. We are also working towards ensuring 100 per cent metering of customers within out network in the nest five years.
” We are also putting up the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) in the next first quarter in our network for effective monitoring of distribution and faults.
“We are in this together, and we must solve the issues because there are contractual obligations to fulfill by the government and the private investors.
“For Eko Disco, we are encouraged with the fact that the chairman of the Senate committee commended us for the improvement that he saw,” he said.
Fadeyibi said: “I am obviously impressed by what we have done and wants us to continue to do more of what we are doing well. And in doing that, I think what the people should expect is that, as we always say, safety is number one for us but right after that is to ensure we do improve power supply and customer communication is critical.