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BUSINESS NEWS: Discos to repossess dormant prepaid meters from customers

BUSINESS NEWS: Discos to repossess dormant prepaid meters from customers

Publish date: 2022-07-03 23:55:54 | Author: OpeOluwani Akintayo | Source: punchng.com

Prepaid meters given to electricity consumers from the Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo under the National Mass Metering Programme, which have now become dormant, will soon be retrieved.

The NMMP scheme, an intervention scheme introduced by the Federal Government in 2020 to bridge the metering gap, is aimed at distributing six million free prepaid metres across the country.

However, the programme which has so far seen the distribution of almost one million in its phase 0 and phase 1, may have been experiencing some challenges as some beneficiaries were said to be experiencing technical problems with the meters.

Multiple Discos sources, who spoke to The PUNCH, confirmed that some of the companies were concluding plans to withdraw the meters.

Aside from the customers having problems with malfunctioning meters, it was learnt that some consumers were deliberately engaging in energy theft and meter bypass.

“There are also cases of consumers who refuse to recharge because their debts from the old analogue meters were transferred to their prepaid meters. Other cases are those of disputed bills where customers disagree with the bills from the analogue meters. They refused to recharge because those cases are yet to be resolved,” a source explained.

The spokesperson for Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Felix Ofulue, confirmed the cases of dormant prepaid meters to The PUNCH.

According to him, about 30 per cent of the 106, 000 meters given to the firm by the Federal Government have not been activated.

He lamented that some of its customers were caught bypassing their free prepaid metres.

“Yes, we have cases of meters that have never been recharged since installation. Nigerians have been screaming that DisCos did not give them prepaid meters. Now that some meters have been distributed, we still have cases of consumers bypassing those meters and using electricity for free”, Ofulue told The PUNCH.

The spokesperson for Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Busolami Tunwase, however, said the company had yet to reach a decision to retrieve the prepaid meters.

According to her, such meters cannot be taken back because they have already been programmed in the names and addresses of the customers.

The Spokesperson for Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Godwin Idemudia, said it might be difficult to embark on such a move.

Phase II of the NMMP, which is expected to lead to the distribution of four million meters across Nigeria, is expected to begin any time from July.

The spokesperson for the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Chijioke James, said DisCos should not withdraw meters from consumers.

“It is not good to withdraw metres from consumers, rather DisCos must make sure all consumers are metered nationwide according to the presidential directive to that effect”, he said.

A metering expert, Olusesan Okunade, said the lapses in customers not recharging their meters were due to a lack of monitoring by the DisCos.

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