Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) on Tuesday agreed to work together in a new partnership arrangement that would see both agencies go after and prosecute electricity distribution companies (Discos) that usually extort from their customers funds to procure and repair electrical installations on their networks.
Both agencies in this regards signed in Abuja, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to activate the framework titled: ‘consumers’ redress legislation.’
They indicated their intention to closely work to get rid of instances of disregard for customers’ rights and abuse of service trust by the Discos.
According to the acting Director General of the NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah, the commission had already issued a non-tolerance notice to the Discos on wrongful estimates of consumers’ electricity consumptions, compelling customers to buy, install and repair such distribution equipment like transformers, poles and wires.
Akah also noted that instances of unsafe electrical connections and safety practices would be covered in the new memo on consumers’ redress legislation.
He added that NERC would equally monitor Discos meter roll-out plans with the CPC to ensure that willing consumers get value for electricity services they pay for.
“We intend to intensify enforcement of consumer protection regulations on metering, billing and the perennial complaints of estimated customers.
“There shall also be concerted efforts aimed at greatly reducing the incidence of estimated billing and eventually eliminating them completely. The commission has issued a non-tolerance statement on wrongful estimates, compelling customers to buy, install and repair transformers, and poles,” Akan noted.
He explained that the commission’s partnership with the CPC is aimed at promoting speedy redress of consumer related issues in the delivery of electricity services to them.
The Director General of CPC, Mrs. Atoki Dupe, in her comments, said the CPC hopes to leverage on the partnership to bring the Discos to appreciate the service delivery challenges of electricity consumers in their network.
She however noted that this would not be without considerations for their investments in delivering electricity to consumers.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Solomon Arase, has promised to direct state Commissioners of Police across the country to support the enforcement of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) work whenever request for security cover is made on the police during NEMSA’s inspection.
Arase spoke at the Force Headquarters in Abuja while playing host to the visiting NEMSA team led by its Managing Director, Peter Ewesor.
NEMSA had visited Arase to intimate him on its activities and need for security protection from the police during its inspection of electricity facilities in the country.
Arase however said: “You can be assured that we will put our assets at your disposal across the country.
“And I will give directives to my colleagues on the field that whenever your people have any challenge just feel free to go to any of the commissioners in the states where the challenges are and you can be assured that they will assist you.”
He further said: “I can assure you sir that any time you need our assistance we will be there. I will put this directive down with our colleagues so any of your officers in any of the states that want our assistance should know that the guarantee is already there.”
The IG however explained that most of the police officers were not abreast on the job of the agency, he thus requested for some sensitisation and inter-agencies collaboration with NEMSA.
He said on this: “Maybe whenever you people have time and we have any training programmes in our schools, nothing stops any of your directors from going to those colleges to talk to our officers at the operational level so that they can also become acquainted with the regulation.”
He therefore urged NEMSA to incorporate its regulations into the training schedule of the police college.
Ewesor had earlier told Arase that in carrying out its mandate, NEMSA would occasionally require