When the news filtered in last month that a member of the House of Representatives, Surulere Federal Constituency 1, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, has initiated moves to save hapless Nigerians from the jugulars of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) who collect about N3 billion in estimated bills every month, Nigerians wondered whether it was a dream.
The proposed law titled ‘‘Electric Power Sector Reform Act(Amendment) Bill 2018’’ and sponsored by the legislator is a bill for an Act to amend the Electric power sector reforms Act to prohibit and criminalise estimated billing by Discos and provide for compulsory installation of pre-paid meters to all power consumers in Nigeria and other related matters.
The pitiable condition of most electricity consumers was further compounded last year, when the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, shocked most Nigerians when he said that the 11 distribution companies would need about N220 billion to provide prepaid meter to power consumers.
Nigerian consumers have had to bear the brunt of the inefficiencies of the Discos by paying about N3 billion monthly in estimated billing.
But more worrisome is the Discos inability to provide meter for about six million households, a situation that has been further compounded by liquidity challenges, and difficulties in credit access to purchase meters.
Gbajabiamila seems unperturbed and has risen to confront the monstrous estimated billing debacle that is eating deep into the hard earned resources of electricity consumers, by ensuring that the Discos bring an end to endless rip-off.
Synopsis of the Bill
The Electric Power Sector Reform Act (herein referred to as “The Principal Act”) is hereby amended as set out hereunder.
Section 35 (2) of the Principal Act is amended by inserting immediately after the word “term” the phrase “except reappointed under sub section 4 of this section”.
Section 67 sub section 1 of the Principal Act is amended by deleting the entire paragraph (b) and replacing same with a new paragraph (b) as follows: “the installations, maintenance and checking of pre-paid meters, tariff methodology and proscription of estimated billings”.
The Principal Act is amended by creating new sections 68 to 72 as follows: 68 -(1) Estimated billing methodology is hereby prohibited in Nigeria.
Every electricity consumer in Nigeria shall apply to the Electricity Distribution Company carrying out business within his jurisdiction for a pre-paid meter and such consumer shall pay the regulated fee for pre-paid meter to be installed in his premises and the Electricity Distribution Company shall within 30 days of receiving the application and payment install the pre-paid meter applied for in the premises of the consumer.
Customers who elect to buy their pre-paid meters through Credit Advancement Metering Implementation must state it in their applications and such customers must be metered within 30 days of the receipt of their applications.
All electricity charges or billings to the premises of every consumer shall be based strictly on pre-paid metering and no consumer shall be made to pay any bill without a pre-paid meter first being installed at the premises of the consumer.
If a Customer is not metered within 30 days after application has been duly made, the relevant electricity distribution company is prohibited from refusing to connect the customer or disconnect the customer in the event that the customer has been connected or estimate his bills.
Upon connection, the Electricity Distribution Company serving the consumer must inform the customer in writing on the nature of the meter installed, tariff methodology and all other services available to the customer.
Regulatory role/ sanctions
In giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as the Regulatory body must ensure that all licensed Distribution Companies comply with the provisions of this Act.
All cases of illegal disconnection, refusal of the relevant Distribution Company to connect a customer after application, un-metering within 30 (thirty) days of a customer applying for a pre-paid meter and estimated billing shall attract both civil and criminal liability.
Any officer found guilty shall be liable to a fine of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) or imprisonment for a term of 6 months or to both such fine and imprisonment as the Court may deem fit.
Section 94 sub section (2)of the Principal Act is amended by creating a new sub-section (4) as follows:
“Any person who performs any act or does anything or refuses, fails and/or neglected to carry out his lawful duties with intention to contravene or frustrate the Implementation of sections 68 and 71 of this Act is said to have committed an offence; and upon conviction shall be liable to 6 (six) months imprisonment or a fine of N1, 000,000, (One Million Naira) or to both such fine and imprisonment without prejudice to the right of the Commission to cancel or suspend any license under this Act”.
Solewant Plans LSAW Pipe milling plant in Nigeria
An indigenous firm, Solewant Group has announced plans to invest in an LSAW pipe milling plant in Nigeria as part of efforts to meet the growing demand for steel pipes in upcoming offshore and onshore projects in Nigeria and Africa oil and gas industry.
The group made the disclosure in its presentation to the Group Managing of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr.Maikanti Baru, at the Nigerian Pavilion during the 50th Anniversary of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) which ended recently in Houston, Texas.
Group Executive Director of Solewant Group, Mr. Matthew Aganren, who led the company’s team to OTC 2018 disclosed that Solewant Steel pipe Manufacturing Plant is a technology that produces 12 inch to 56inch steel pipes to serve the oil and gas industry.
He noted that the company is now able to conform to tailor-made solutions for the most demanding project requirement by taking advantage of its strong industrial system, years of industry experience in pipeline corrosion protection, extensive inspection and testing programmes with state of the art Multilayer pipe coating plant, concrete weight coating plant and laboratory facilities.
Responding to the presentation by Solewant, Baru said that the vision of NNPC is to encourage Steel pipe production in Nigeria within the next five years.
Aganren said the participation of Solewant in this year’s edition of the OTC was in line with the vision of the Group to showcase the company’s brand new pipe coating plant, concrete weight coating plant and ultra modern pipe coating laboratory facilities and pipeline field joint coating equipment acquired as backbone for competence to the Oil and Gas project owners .
He added that these automated factories are configured to respond to the corporate dream of Solewant to become one of the major participants in value creation in Nigeria’s challenging business environment, local job creation, increased GDP, and technology transfer.
He noted that Solewant has continued to stimulate cooperation from both local and foreign actors, adding that, this feat, has the capacity to promote Nigeria’s dream of backward integrated development.
On Solewant track record, he said “We are known for quality and visitors to our stand can testify to the quality of facilities that we have acquired over the years, through slide that shows how our workers execute various projects at our facilities in Nigeria”.
He added that among other world class projects delivered to International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Engineering Procurement and Construction Companies (EPCs), Solewant also, in 2017 provided excellent and reliable multilayer pipeline field joint coating system on Chevron/EESP project at Excravos.
“Providing evidence of our capacities at this year’s OTC convinced several leaders of the oil and gas industry that there is no project too large or too small, and no place too remote for us to handle and /or access when it comes to project delivery,” he emphasized.
He disclosed that the company is committed to the formation of strategic, veritable, formidable partnership/consortium and alliance with foreign technical partners.
According to him, the partnership/alliance is revealed in the competence and proven performance in line pipe and field joint coating services for leading indigenous and international oil and gas services firms.
‘‘These services in the past were extended to Total, Nigerian National Petroleum Coporation, ExxonMobil, Nestoil Plc, Seplat, Shell, G.C Limited, Oilserv, Chrome Oil, Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Indorama Group, East Gas Company Limited, Subsea 7 and Delta Afrik.”