•Directs cancellation of CAPMI
From Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has decried the prolonged power supply crises in the country just as the current generation capacity is less than 5,000 megawatts.
Fashola said 5,000 megawatts of power was far insufficient for over 170 million Nigerians.
The minister, who spoke in Abuja yesterday when he received the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mrs. Dupe Atoki, promised to raise standards in the quality and quantity of service in the electricity supply chain.
Fashola said it, therefore, became imperative for the private sector to support the Federal Government’s various efforts to boost power generation and embrace the new multi-year tariff order to consumers.
He also said the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) which has become one of the challenges to consumers should be resolved soon, stating that, “you cannot take peoples’ money without providing the service for which they have paid. I was uncomfortable with that”.
The former Lagos State governor said the ministry has ordered that the scheme be wound down so that people could get what they have paid for, adding that it is the responsibility of the DisCos’ to provide meters for their consumers, and so wind down what they had collected.
“We must bring mutual trust in the provision of power and those are some of the emerging issues again, and if people have paid for something, they deserve to have it, and if you can’t do it, wind down the scheme.
“Let’s hold you now fully responsible, you have a market tariff, you go and meter. All of these things are happening at our monthly meetings and we are also holding the DisCos now to their committed timelines for metering, and we are also asking them to file returns”, he said.
In the words of the minister: “We ask them ‘who have you metered? We want to see the details if you tell us you have metered them’. This will be an ongoing exercise until we finish; we also need to be fair because, if, since 1960 that we started public power, and we have not metered everybody when our population was not as much as this, do we honestly think this can happen in five months?”
“But, ultimately, this will happen because there is a business end to it, and for those who are bringing in the meters, they also need to bring in high quality meters because they have a duty to protect both the consumers and the DisCos,” he said.
The minister stated that although the role of his ministry is not to take sides, the new tariff regime has been made to protect the consumer as the ministry ensures that DisCos and GenCos perform their responsibilities well, and that they are held to their service levels, adding that the ministry also stands between them and consumers to ensure that they do not profiteer against consumers.
“I think this last tariff seeks to achieve much for consumers in my opinion, and I will tell you why people were complaining about fixed charge, saying why will they take my money; but this last tariff stopped fixed charge, that’s a consumer sensitive charge”.
“What the last tariff also did was to say, how do we stand to address the metering gap between the consumers and the DisCos?. It also tried to address the issue of estimated billing, so that if you dispute your last bill because you don’t have a meter, you cannot refuse to pay what you believe you have consumed and you cannot be disconnected,” the minister said.
Fashola said the onus is on the DisCos to prove that a consumer has used the power they seek payment for and they cannot prove that the consumer used power without measuring it “and they cannot measure the power without metering it and this was a way to incentivise metering”.
He noted, however, that consumers seem not to fully understand the benefits of the tariff, hence, the present controversy. Elucidating more on the reason for the new tariff, the minister, who maintained that it is more friendly for the consumers, ultimately added that it also sought to balance the interest of the DisCos because, according to him, “you cannot sell below your production price, and if the price of gas has gone up for instance, you must factor that into your price”.
“We cannot improve on quality without having more power and one of the things that this tariff seeks to address is that private organizations can provide power, and this is to ensure that anyone who wants to pay for premium power can leave the public power space for people who want to stay there”.
“The law provides for it, so you can leave the pay-as-you-go for the premium power. These are some of the consumer beneficial deliveries that are involved and I think I can’t begrudge people. There are a lot of emotions,” he said.