Consumers berate PHCN over pre-paid meters

pre-paid-electriciSome industrialists in Lagos have criticised the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, for failure to supply them pre-paid meters after they had applied for the meters some years ago.

They alleged that some PHCN officials told them that their electricity consumption would still be based on estimation.
Some of the industrial customers told Vanguard that some PHCN officials had refused to change their stance on the issue.

The Managing Director, Exi-tol, a Copper Manufacturing Company in Ijora, Mr Rajack Chilop, said that PHCN officials were in the habit of sending estimated bills without reading their meters.
Chilop, an Indian, said that in spite of the series of letters the company had written to the management of the Eko Electricity Distribution Zone, their request to have pre-paid meters is yet to be granted.
“It is bad enough that people hardly enjoy electricity, but it is most dehumanising when they have to pay for energy they did not consume.

“This issue of over-billing and sometimes crazy bills has been a battle between officials of PHCN and consumers over the years,’’ he said.

A frozen food seller at Ijora, Mrs. Simbiat Opeloyeru, said that PHCN had failed to fulfill its promise to install the meters within two weeks after the payment of N25 000 for the meter. She also said that she had paid for the meter over a year ago, but she was still waiting for the PHCN officials to come and install the meter.

“I have been paying estimated bills, which is wrong. When I complained, the manager told me that they had no meter for now. He assured me that once there is meter, I will be the first to be reckoned with and this was last year.
“The latest information is that management has stopped distributing the meters, but introduced the new Credit Advance Payment Metering Implementation Scheme,” Opeloyeru said.

The Chairman of Silberg Industries in  Ojota Industrial Estate,  Mr Chibuike Simon, also complained that most industries in the area were yet to have pre-paid meters installed in their premises.
“Nigerians welcomed the introduction of pre-paid meters with open arms, but have to gasp and groan when they can only see and cannot have it.”

The Managing Director, Surry-bee Pure Water Manufacturing Company,  Okota, Mr Kolapo Desmond, said, “We have heard  that one can actually monitor how much he spends on electricity, but here there is no such luxury.

“Look at the situation now, in the last five months we have been having electricity for just about three to four hours per day. Some days, there will be no power supply at all, but our bills have been almost constant. PHCN brings a bill of not less than N35, 000 per month without meter.

“There was a month our transformer was out for 16 days, meaning there was no electricity for two weeks, but when it came to the bills nothing reflected on it. The amount is as constant as ever. PHCN still brings a bill of over N24, 000,’’ he said.

The Principal Manager, Public Affairs, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr Ademola Adegoke, however, denied the allegations. He said that no industrial company is billed on estimation.

According to him, “It is not true that we don’t have meters for our industrial customers. The truth of the matter is that except in rare cases when an industrial customer’s meter may be temporarily bad, no industrial customer is supposed to be billed on estimation.

“Even if the meter is faulty, estimated billing can only be for a few months pending when replacement is made for the faulty meter. It can thus be safely said that more than ninety five per cent of our industrial customers are metered.

“Going by the huge quantum of energy this category of customers consumes, we cannot afford not to have fool-proof method of billing them.
Adegoke also said that an objective random sampling of the Industrial and commercial customers would confirm his stance on the issue.

 

Information from Vanguard was used in this report.

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