Inconsistent billing system and deep seated corruption are threatening the ongoing reform of th Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), The Post has found.
The Post’s findings revealed that for unexplained reasons, many residences are being made to pay more than commercial establishments.
It was gathered that, even though those customers have meters, the distribution companies don’t bill according to the reading of the meters because they don’t read these meters.
The Post found, for instance, that most three-bed room flats pay about N3, 000 monthly bill while thers with similar apartment category and appliances pay as much as N30, 000. This sort of billing, described in PHCN lingo as ‘crazy bill’ is building resistance rather that the support that the company’s reform requires.
The company was recently accused by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of deliberately sabotaging the deployment of meters to customers nationwide since it affords them the opportunity of overbilling through estimated invoicing rather than using meters.
The Chairman of the commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, who indicted PHCN authorities, indicated that the commission has strong evidence to that effect, following series of complaints from numerous customers.
Dr. Amadi noted that with the implementation of the proposed Multi-Year Tariff Order, which is to start on June 1, no distribution company will collect one dime except they receive a certification from NERC. He said the commission will go round to inspect the distribution companies to access how much improvement they have made in terms of metering, which is aimed at checkmating the billing framework of the distribution companies.
It was observed in Enugu, for instance, that costumers whose meters had malfunctioned were often not allowed to reactivate them. The customers, it was gathered, are usually forced to part with some amount of money before their meters are fixed. This,eventually leads to estimated ‘billings, which are often higher than the use of meters.
In Yola, The Post also gathered the sharp practices by men of PHCN is denying many residents of the state electricity supply as only the rich who can part away with extra monies to PHCN staff are supplied electricity while the poor are left to groan in darkness.
Residents of some communities of Ogun State are also being ripped off by PHCN officials as they are being forced into signing agreements with the PHCN staff whereby the sum of N50, 000 is paid to PHCN as bribe on monthly basis, just to ensure steady supply of electricity to their areas.
Many other communities have resulted to administering the responsibility of installation of Power transformers, electric poles, power cables, collection of electricity project development levies, as well as disconnection and reconnection of cables of residents in the community.
The system, The Post was told, was adopted in a collective agreement by the residents of the affected communities when PHCN was found to be unresponsive to their numerous complaints.
Despite the N2.9 billion provided by the government in 2011 to enhance electricity power supply services to the citizenry, only about 35 percent of Nigerians are at the moment said to be enjoying efficient metering services from PHCN.