Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Relief has come the way of electricity consumers in Delta and neighbouring states as Benin Electricity Distribution company (BEDC) is set to distribute pre-paid meters free of charge to consumers in its coverage areas.
The company said the decision was in response to the directive of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to DISCOs to make meters available to consumer at no cost.
Head, BEDC, Delta State, Ernest Elgah disclosed this at a Customer Public Forum held at the Mom Civic Centre, Warri.
He said that the NERC had issued a directive to all distribution companies in the country to stop collecting money from customers who want to buy meter adding that henceforth, meters will be given to customers free of charge.
Elgar said the distribution of the meters have already started and that BEDC will distribute meters to all its customers within three to four years as the company cannot provide meters to all its customers within one year.
He said BEDC will make sure that the meters gets to all its customers but asked for patience on their part, stressing that they do not have the funds to provide meters for everybody at the same time.
The BEDC Boss said the metering will be done in batches and that by the end of five years, every house would have been metered.
He also disclosed that the Minister of Power has set machineries in motion to ensure that Government Ministries and agencies who are owing BEDC pay up their debt to ensure a smooth running of the BEDC.
“BEDC receives nine percent of what is available at the national grid. BEDC covers four states namely, Edo Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states. Once the national grid has challenges the available power to BEDC reduces.
“Standard practice all over the world is that for every one million population, they should consume 10,000mw. Now that the country is boasting of about 160 million people, then we should be talking about a hundred and something mega watts.
“The Hon. Minister also said that there is a major liquidity problem which they are working on. He said they are in various degree of discussion with the World Bank on how to resolve this liquidity problem. So we need to address the issue where the challenge really is.
“The Minister has set up a working committee with all the distribution companies on how to settle the bills of government Ministries and Agencies. The committee is working assiduously to ensure that the debt are reconciled and the government has given us commitment to pay”, he added.
The Company however attributed the incessant power outages in its area of coverage to vandalisation and theft of its equipment.
Despite these challenges, BEDC Boss assured the company’s customers in Edo, Ondo, Delta and Ekiti States that it is poised to provide them with quality service delivery and urged the customers to pay their bills and avoid all forms of illegal deals with some BEDC staff who are corrupt.
Elgar lamented the high rate of theft of BEDC equipments by vandals who have made it very difficult for them to perform maximally.
“I also want to emphasize on this issue of vandalisation and violence. The level of violence and vandalisation in Delta State is on the increase. This year alone I know that three people have been jailed and I must commend the judiciary for that,” he said.