Peter Uzoho
Worried by incessant power challenges in the country caused partly by stealing energy and vandalisation of electricity facilities by disgruntled members of the public, the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy has disclosed its plan to harmonise all laws in the country dealing with energy theft and vandalism into single bill.
The initiative is expected to help drive growth in the power sector and help Distribution Companies (DisCos) mitigate losses.

The Chairman, Senate committee, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, stated this recently in Lagos, during the committee’s oversight function visit to Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC).
“The response to energy theft, vandalism and others is scattered all over different laws and different areas in our laws, and so we want to see whether we can consolidate them into one bill and that will help everybody in the sector,”Abaribe said.

According to him, we know that they (DisCos) are operating under a tremendous difficult and anybody who starts a business, stands at a loss when the cost of what you are given is not what you are told to sell.
He said: “It is a regulated industry which means that you cannot charge more than what the government says you should charge.
“And so, if government is selling to you at N100 and now tells you to charge at N50, you are already at a loss.

“That is what we want to let Nigerians know – that there are some things that are in this regulated industry which we need toresolve; and it is the resolution that has brought us here.”
However, the senator assured the management of EKEDC that the senate would assist in ensuring that the outstanding debts of N20 million owed the company by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were paid directly from the debtors rather than from NBET.

Abaribe, also urged the EKEDC to ensure effective distribution of electricity to consumers within its network, stressing that issues related to estimated billings and metering should be put at the front burners.
Also speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the senators’ visit, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of EKEDC, Mr. Adeoye Fadeyibi, called for legislation on stringent punishment and prosecution of offenders involved in the act of vandalism, energy theft and meter tampering.

He explained that such legislation should also cover those tampering with electricity facilities and building on right of way.
Earlier in his remark, Fadeyibi equally revealed that the EKEDC had installed over 100,000 prepaid meters in the last five years, adding that the Disco is currently working towards ensuring 100 per cent metering of customers within its network in the next five years.

He said: “We are also putting up the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) in the next first quarter in our network for effective monitoring of distribution and faults. “We are in this together, and we must solve the issues because there are contractual obligations to fulfil by the government and the private investors.
“For Eko Disco, we are encouraged with the fact that the chairman of the Senate committee commended us for the improvement that he saw. They are obviously impressed by what we have done and want us to continue to do more of what we are doing well.

“And in doing that, I think what the people should expect is that, as we always say, safety is number one for us but right after that is to ensure we do improve power supply and customer communication which are critical. For us, it is to ensure that we continue pursuing the goal of 24/7 power supply. “So in delivering reliable power supply, we want to ensure that energy theft issue continues to go down, and we will continue to provide meters and enumerate our customers, while hoping that the government, on its side, continue to work with us.”