By David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the 2017 sector-specific census will help the federal government to address the shortage of electricity supply in the country.
Fashola who spoke with journalists in Awka, Anambra State, yesterday said his ministry had mapped out a three-pronged strategy to deal with power problems in the country, saying the strategy has been divided into short, medium and long term strategies.
The minister said the census which would help to properly enumerate power usage and allocation in the country would be part of the medium term plan, while increasing power in the grid in the short term plan.
He said: “We are here to get the job done and get life better for the people of Anambra State and the South-east region. Our work on power is three pronged-short term, medium term and long term. In the short term, we want to achieve incremental power, the power we have now is not enough.
“Unfortunately as we are gaining power in some places, expanding power in some transmission and the transmission grid can now take 7,000 megawatts, but we are losing power generation to gas shortages and vandalism.
“Today, we can evacuate 7,000, but we don’t have the gas to fire those turbines, that is why the vice president visited Niger Delta to speak with them. Now the price of oil has gone up to $56, so we should take the opportunity to produce more, more fuel means more gas, and more gas means more power.
“We have lost about 3,000 megawatts, and we are currently working towards getting another 4,000 and you can imagine what would have happened if our brothers (militants) from the Niger Delta who are angry with us could sheath their sword, we would have had about 7,000 now, and you know what that means.”
The medium term plan, he said, is when the census will be done. He urged Nigerians to ensure that they stay in their towns or states of residence when the census would be conducted as it would help to ensure proper evacuation of power.
“Stay where you live, don’t move to the village. We have to know where you need power; people must stay where they live and not go to their villages, because that is where they need power. These are the strategies going further,” he added.
He also assured Nigerians that his ministry was working hard to tackle the problem of estimated billing system with the distribution companies (discos). He said it may take some time for everyone to own a meter, but soon, the problem would be overcome.
The minister said a proper billing system is also being worked out that would help the discos know what category each consumer belonged, as failure to do so would always result in consumers paying the wrong bill which could either cheat the discos or be cheating the consumer.