THE Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has reacted to petitions by customers of arbitrary billings, staff corruption and unrealistic tariff band methodology, whereby consumers pay cost-reflective tariffs and still do not get proportional electricity supply.
The ICIR had reported exclusively that power Distribution Companies (DisCos) were ripping off their customers through estimated billings and unrealistic tariff band methodology, where consumers pay cost-reflective tariffs and still do not get proportional electricity supply across Nigeria.
The ICIR also reported that NERC looks on helplessly as consumers are forced to accept the extortion.
Following the indictments, NERC and AEDC made clarifications during an anti-corruption radio program, Public Conscience on Radio, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Head of Corporate Communications at AEDC, Olabode Fadipe, maintained that tariff band methodology was not his fault and reassured that electricity customers under AEDC would not be charged for services offered in the case of bad electricity transformer or breakdown of any other infrastructure.
He added that things like logistics are a challenge hindering metering every customer at the same time. “The logistics to meter every customer at the same time is not there because you don’t have more than 24 hours. We have about four hundred thousand customers to meter, even the production of meters will not cover all the quantity that we need at the same time.”
He, however, promised that electricity consumers under AEDC would be metered in 36 months in a mass metering project being planned by the company.
Fadipe later told The ICIR in a phone interview that AEDC would not rip off any customer.
“We are duty-bound by regulations and we have a capping rule that applies to our customers.”
Speaking about illegal demand for money by AEDC staff, Fadipe said, “No staff of AEDC is allowed to collect money illegally from any Customer. Anyone who knows any staff demanding money should come forward and seek redress.”
He went further to say no staff of AEDC should put any customer under any form of pressure.
“If any customer is put under pressure, the customer has the right to seek redress.”
He said AEDC is working with security operatives to apprehend individuals who engage in illegal connections and promised to address the numerous complaints raised by electricity consumers in Abuja.
Also, speaking during the programme, the National Electricity Regulations Commission NERC’s Assistant General Manager, Consumer Enlightenment, Zubair Babatunde Zubair, discredited allegations of the inability of NERC to regulate DisCos properly.
He stated that the Commission was addressing corruption issues in the power sector at a larger scale according to the Act establishing them.
“The Act that established the Commission (NERC) gave us powers to resolve issues.
“Where there’s an allegation of corruption when it has to do with the DisCos, I believe they have their internal mechanisms to deal with their staff. Any member of their staff that is caught exhibiting acts of corruption in whichever way, I’m sure AEDC knows how to handle corruption.”
On customers complaints on estimated billing, he said there is nothing like estimated billing.
“It has been abolished. What they have now is capping for consumers that do not have meters.”
He added that NERC is on course to develop an app that would monitor the service delivery of the DisCos in a bid to ensure that electricity consumers do not pay for the power they didn’t use.
Regarding the complaint of the Pegi community in the Kuje Area Council in Abuja, he promised they would see the result soon.
Further attempts to reach out to NERC was not successful as phone lines of the commission’s website did not go through.
The Public Conscience is awakened weekly on this anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The MacArthur Foundation supports the programme.