Vanguard (Lagos)

1 March 2014

Nigeria: Controversy Over the Pre-Paid Meter

Three years ago, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when the pre-paid meter was introduced. They thought that at last, the epileptic system of power supply and outrageous billing system since the take-over of PHCN by the private investors will be a thing of the past.

Nigerians were further pleased when they were assured by the government that the meters will be distributed free to consumers of electricity in the country to ensure accurate billings both for domestic and industrial consumption.

As they were trying to welcome the new meter, another directive came that Nigerians pay between N25,000 and N50,000 for pre-paid meters under the Credited Advance Pay for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) scheme.

The move became controversial as some paid to get the meter installed while some others exchanged their old meter for the new one. But the whole exercise was short lived when all of a sudden, the pre paid meter distribution stopped.

For reasons best known to them, it was gathered that the new owners of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, NEDC/Kepco Consortium, suspended the pre-paid meter scheme.

Out of 10 distribution companies in the country, it was only Ikeja and Eko electricity distribution companies that adopted the CAPMI scheme as a response to customers' complaints about estimated billing.

It was learnt that the scheme was cancelled by the new private investors in the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) because according to them, they have their own metering strategy.

A source informed that the scheme was suspended for Disco to complete a reassessment of the entire system and maybe review it if the new investors want it.

But since the takeover of asset of the PHCN by private operators, bills on electricity power supply have become outrageous.

As a result, several complaints about such matters have been laid, yet nothing seems to be done about it.

For those currently using the pre paid meter, the billing was like the GSM operation of pay-as-you-go but not too long ago, an additional charge of N750, has been added to the indiscriminately epileptic power supply.

In some cases, people buy as much as N10,000 worth of unit, most times, it will not last more than a month as expected. Now and then, some people come around to tamper with the meter claiming to be officials of PHCN and most times damaging it.

At the moment, Nigerians are at crossroad as to whether to still expect miracle from the new investors or brace up for the worst.

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