By Etse Kassim, Abuja
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has warned electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) against arbitrary billing and group disconnection of consumers, saying such acts constitute a gross abuse of consumer rights.
Babatunde Irukera, Director General of the Council, who stated this at a meeting with the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), said there was no excuse for treating consumers badly.
“You see people who are complaining about supply because they, as individuals, have been responsible, but the DISCOs have painted them with a broad stroke and disconnected even the responsible people. As a lawyer, our approach to criminal work, even legal work, has always been that let the guilty man go free instead of punishing the innocent man,” Irukera said.
In a statement made available by CPC to newsmen in Abuja Irukera said “the key complaints that we receive are arbitrary, unsupported and unreasonable billing; people not being treated with dignity, the complaint resolution process is either lacking or unclear and there’s really no respect for people”.
Earlier, the AEDC Managing Director, Engineer Ernest Mupwaya, expressed concern over fluctuation in foreign exchange rates and inflation, saying it is impacting negatively on its cost activities.
On the issue of estimated billing, he disclosed that efforts are being made to address the metering gap with more meters for consumers and the adoption of an interim plan of metering transformers for a more accurate estimation.
His words: “The issue of estimated billing has not been fully resolved because of the low rate of metering, and this is closely tied with the impairment on the balance sheet which is tied to tariff issues.
“The balance sheets are impaired to the extent that we are facing huge challenges to attract investments. But I must say that the government, through the power sector recovery programme, has put up a plan that will address these gaps.
“There will be a reset this year, and there will be some level of adjustments in such a way that the balance sheets will look better, and this will give us impetus to get more finances. I think the whole plan is premised on DISCOs being able to meter customers 100% over 24 months.
“So we have positioned our sales to meet this challenge of metering. But beyond that, we realised that whereas it is important to meter every customer, there is a very quick win to meter all the transformers.”