The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki has urged new owners of electricity to liaise with security agencies in the country to check the reported cases of vandalism, harassment and assault on personnel of the power companies over unpaid electricity bills.
Dikki gave the advice when the post privatization monitoring team from the Bureau visited the Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) last week.
A statement by the Head, Public Communications, BPE, Chigbo Anichebe said that the DG was represented by the Director, Post Privatization Monitoring Department of BPE, Mallam Ibrahim Kashim, Dikki said that it was no longer be business as usual in the power sector as Nigerians, irrespective of their status must be prepared to pay for the services rendered by the power companies.
Dikki in an apparent reaction to complaints by the Managing Director of 4Power Company, the core investor of the PHEDC, Mr. Mathew Edevbie that workers of the utility company were constantly molested and beaten up by military and paramilitary officers over unpaid electricity bills, said that if Nigerians expected efficient and reliable power supply from the core investors “they must be prepared to pay their bills as it was no longer a government asset”. The Director General said the purpose of the post privatization monitoring was to assess the performances of the companies since handover to ensure compliance with all the tenets covenanted with the government on take over.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of 4Power Company, Mr. Mathew Edevbie informed the monitoring team that the company had evolved a robust master plan to give efficient and quality service to its customers.
While urging all stakeholders to effectively manage expectations in the power sector, he appealed to electricity consumers in the country to be patient with the new owners as effective power supply would not be achieved over night.
He decried the attitude of some highly paced persons in the society in the area of coverage of the PHEDC who by-pass meters and deliberately refuse to pay their bills or order the security men attached to their homes to beat up officials of the company who go to disconnect light in their homes over unpaid bills. The MD advised electricity consumers to note that contrary to their understanding, electricity is consumed by volume and not the period of consumption “hence oftentimes, bills are issued to consumers for previous consumption when they have black out for a given time”.
Edevbie appealed to BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to review some of their laws in order not to strangulate the power companies. Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PHEDC, Mr. Jon Abbas said the company was working on a pilot scheme where selected areas in its states’ of coverage-Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross- River and Akwa-Ibom would have un-interrupted power supply 24-hours a day, adding that for a start, Ahoada in Rivers state was picked for the scheme.