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The Senate has said the performance of the electricity distribution companies that took over from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria and National Electric Power Authority is worse.
The Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy headed by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe made the declaration during its oversight visit to electricity companies and power parastatals in Kaduna State, on Friday.
The committee stated that the DISCOs were performing poorer than the PHCN and NEPA in revenue collection.
Abaribe, while speaking at the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company in Kaduna, said the committee was unimpressed to discover that DISCOs were recording less than 20 per cent of the revenue collected under the PHCN.
He said, “Returns on collection have reduced but the essence of privatisation is to ensure efficiency. Now, you are doing less than 20 per cent of the previous capacity. We were looking at better collection and better efficiency from you with privatisation but what we are having is less than 80 per cent of what we had.”
Abaribe also condemned the DISCOs for the importation of electricity meters, especially when some companies were producing meters locally.
He pointed out that such a development puts pressure on the naira and limits job creation.
Abaribe said, “We have seen that a lot of DISCOs are not doing business with Nigerian manufacturers (of meters) and these companies come to us. We talk about capacity but they must have orders first before they produce. You must look at this area.”
The Assistant General Manager, Customer Services Standards, Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, Dr. Shittu Shuaibu, who also briefed the Senate committee, indicted the DISCOs for failing to meet the metering schedule and the performance agreements signed with the government.
He alleged that none of the DISCOs in the country had met up to 20 per cent of the metering plans.
Shuaibu said KADEDC had a deadline of November 30 to meet the metering demand of customers and that the commission had given the DISCO up to November 15 to submit its progress report.
According to NERC, the 2015 MYTO provides that DISCOs would cover the metering gap within one year by seeking investments.
He, however, said what NERC had seen was minimal investment in that regard.
“You are to cover the metering gap within one year. The DISCO is supposed to get investment and meter everybody but what we have seen is minimal investment,” Shuaibu stated.
Other members of the committee on the oversight tour included senators Suleiman Hunkuyi, Lanre Tejuosho, Mohammed Hassan and Salau Ogembe, who also expressed worry at the level of performance of the DISCOs in the country.
Hunkuyi pointed out that the discovery made by the committee in Kaduna cut across the industry, adding that the committee would take its time to analyse the challenges and encourage NERC to impose sanctions on erring operators.
The Managing Director, KADEDC, Garba Haruna, who was represented at the meeting by a senior officer of the company, Bello Musa, however, told the senators that the company expected that with the installation of meters, revenue collection would improve.
Rather, he said, the reverse had been the case.
According to him, more than 80 per cent of the meters were bypassed or vandalised, leading to low revenue collection.
“More than 80 per cent of the meters were either bypassed or vandalised. That is the area in which we have challenges. Somebody will just bypass or vandalise your meter and you have no court to take him to,” he said.
Musa also stated that while the DISCO inherited 300,000 customers in four states, including Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, it had so far increased the figure to 400,000.
Other institutions visited by the Senate committee included the Meter Testing Company, Kudeda, Kaduna, National Institute of Trypanosomiasis, Angwa-Rimi, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mando, and the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Malali, Kaduna State.