By Etuka Sunday
The Managing Director of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Mr. Neil Croucher has said that in order to start addressing the metering gap in its coverage area, the company will rollout 100,000 pre-paid meters yearly.
Speaking to newsmen in his office at the weekend, the AEDC CEO said: “We inherited a huge metering gap with different billing system that do not communicate with one another. Indeed, there are five different vending platforms, which we’re trying to harmonise them so that they can communicate with each other; meaning that customers can buy their electricity token from any part of the areas covered by AEDC.
“The operation of five different vending platforms have their challenges, which were not in the interest of our customers and our operation”, Mr Croucher stressed.
He said, “in order to achieve this, we have an arrangement to install 100,000 meters a year in order to wipe out the backlog (in our coverage area) as quick as possible”, adding that: “after securing the (metering) platform, we can then introduce our e-payment solution through which customers can purchase power either through internet, cellphones, e-banking, etcetera”.
The AEDC boss further explained that the company is planning to migrate from the manual billing system it inherited to the modern one.”In the next few weeks, we should have the single (vending) platform commissioned and then rolled out to our entire supply area. “Also on the billing system, we also have six billing centres that would also communicate with each other and give us a centralized data base”, Mr. Croucher added.
In line with the proposed billing system, he also announced plans for a new meter reading system that will capture data electronically and automatically upload same into the company’s billing system thus eliminating estimated billing and ensuring the integrity of bills.
Responding to a question on allegations that the Discos’ indebtedness to Nigerian banks is suffocating the banking sector, the Abuja Disco boss said: “I think it is important to separate the company, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company from its owners.
“AEDC has not obtained any loan and so we don’t have loan repayment issue or debt overhang on our necks, though we would be taking loans in the process so that we would be able to fund the many projects which are required”, he affirmed.