pre-paid-electriciConsumers have continued to groan about poor power supply after the takeover of the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria by private investors.

The situation has been exacerbated with the suspension of the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to close the metering gap and curb ‘crazy billing’ in the system.

It was learnt on Thursday that of the 10 distribution companies in the country, only Ikeja and Eko electricity distribution companies had adopted the CAPMI scheme as a response to customers’ complaints about estimated billing.

While the other Discos have yet to adopt the metering scheme, indications emerged on Thursday that the new owners of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, NEDC/Kepco Consortium, had suspended the pre-paid meter scheme.

The scheme had been inaugurated a week before the company was handed over to NEDC/Kepco in a partnership with six local meter manufacturers:  MOMAS System Nigeria Limited, MOJEC Group of Companies, Chemo-technics Limited, MBH Power Limited, Unistar Hi-tech System Limited and First Global Excel Resources.

But a source at the company, who asked not to be named, told our correspondent that the scheme had been cancelled.

“The new owners have cancelled the CAPMI scheme. They said they had their own metering strategy,” the source said.

However, when contacted, the Chairman, NEDC /Kepco Consortium, Mr. Kola Adesina, denied that the metering scheme had been cancelled.

Rather, he said the scheme was suspended to enable the Disco to complete a reassessment of the entire system.

He explained that if the scheme was considered efficient enough and in tandem with the new investors’ plan, it would be retained.

He said, “We are going through a process of re-assessment of the system. We want to assess the quality and efficiency of the metering scheme. We are re-evaluating it but we have not cancelled anything.

“As investors, we need to look at where we are going and also consider whether the metering scheme will get us to where we are going. However, if it will not get us to where we are going, we will drop it.”

Similarly, a source at the Eko Distribution Company, who asked not to be named, said the pre-paid meter scheme was still on as of Thursday but doubted its eventual survival.

He said the Disco might dump the CAPMI scheme for its own metering programme.

At the introduction of the scheme in March 2013, the NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, noted that CAPMI would eliminate the issue of estimated billing.

Meanwhile, our correspondent on Thursday learnt that power supply across the country had remained poor. This, consumers said, had been a source of worry because they expected a steady improvement of the situation with the entry of the private investors.

Although the Presidential Task Force on Power put the power generation at 3,600.90 megawatts as of November 20, 2013, consumers decried the erratic power supply and persistent outages.

The Principal Associate, Mobile Money Africa, Mr. Emmanuel Okoegwale, said power supply had been erratic in the last three weeks around his Surulere office in Lagos.

“The power situation has gone from bad to worse since the private investors took over. I use inverters to supplement what I get from the PHCN and I use that to tell when public power supply is stable or not. In view of this, I can tell you that the power supply in my office has been particularly erratic in the last three weeks,” he said.

A visibly angry Okoegwale said he had concluded the plan to relocate his office from the area largely due to the poor power supply.

Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer, Royale Prestige Properties, Mr. Seun Akinyele, who lives at Ikeja, decried the poor electricity supply in spite of the high consumer expectations from the new investors.

“We have not been enjoying electricity supply since these new owners took over. I don’t know what is happening,” he lamented.

An artisan, Mr. Banji Adebayo, who relies on regular electricity supply for his business, also said no appreciable improvement had been experienced in power supply in the Yaba area of Lagos, where he works. Mr. Shakirudeen Folorunsho, who runs a barbing salon in Ikeja, also expressed disappointment at the abysmal power supply in his area since the new investors took over.

The Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Disco, Mr. Abiodun Ajifowobaje, during a recent forum, had said there were over 600,000 customers under the distribution area and gave their power requirement as 900MW.

He, however, said the Disco had been getting only 300MW from the Transmission Company of Nigeria, a pointer to the problem of massive load shedding that had bedeviled the sector as a result of low capacity.