More interest groups have continued to raise objections to the newly introduced Meter Asset Provider Regulations (MAPR) policy and the plan to hike tariff, saying both initiatives’ are anti-poor policies.
Latest to join the calls for total review of the 2013 unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and re-nationalization of the power sector for a more transparent and purpose driven privatisation to capable hands is the Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE).
Speaking at press conference in Lagos, Lead Coordinator of CARE, Chinedu Bosah, decried that apart from the current cost of pre-paid meters which he said is not affordable for the vast majority, the corruption-ridden process for getting prepaid meters is worrisome.
He said “With the way and manner Discos are blowing hot and cold in processing acquisition of prepaid meters, next 20 years, more than half of Nigeria electricity consumers will not be metered.
“Current shrouded and surreptitious strategies deployed by Discos would not fundamentally achieve the aim of closing the metering gap which was the target of MAPR.
In his further observations, Bosah argued that “The assurance government gave before it privatized the power sector was that it would bring about efficiency, lower tariff and bring in massive investment but noted that more than five years down the line, the crises run deep.
“Overwhelmingly, many electricity consumers are forced to pay outrageous and unwarranted estimated bills; facilities and power infrastructure remain in a deplorable state, inability of the power companies to invest to turn around the sector and poor working conditions of electricity workers, and the Discos rejecting power due to profit motive.
“The consequence is widespread darkness in many communities, load-shedding and epileptic power supply leading to a situation where, in the country with a population of about 200 million people gets a paltry 4000 MW averagely”, it added.
“Discos have largely abandoned the reading of post-paid meters to sustain the issuance of unwarranted estimated bills so as to continue day-light robbery of the commoners.
CARE decried further that “Despite that the current tariff regime is unaffordable for the vast majority, the Distribution Companies are demanding for an upward review of tariff so that consumers pay so much for poor supply and the government is working towards achieving a tariff hike as a means of appeasing the so-called investors.
“Since the last tariff hike of 45 per cent on February 2016, the state of facilities/infrastructure remains obsolete because as usual, the power companies have failed to invest thereby leaving many communities in blackout. Hence, if there is another tariff hike, more burdens will be added to the lot of the working people and it is not even a guarantee that the power companies will invest to improve the sector.
Business Hilights recalls that the core industry regulator, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had in April introduced MAPR and mandated Discos to meter Nigerians in partnership with MAPs within three months following a seamless process, but Discos have discreetly stifled the originally simple process to make it cumbersome so as to derail the process.