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Concerned Electricity Consumers conclude arrangement to drag PHEDC to Court in Bayelsa . Endorses reversal of power sector privatization

By Our Correspondent 

A group under the aegis of ‘Concerned Electricity Consumers in Bayelsa’ have concluded an arrangement to drag the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) to Court over the epileptic Power supply and the fixed rate billing of electricity on consumers in the state.

 Expert urges reversal of power sector privatisation for enhanced supply

 The Chairman of the group who spoke to Global Overseer on condition of anonymity, in Yenagoa on Thursday, said, at no distance time, the company would be served with a court summon to explain why exorbitant electricity bills would be imposed on consumers linked to the national grid without prepaid meters being install to substantiate the rate of consumption, thereby defrauding them millions of Naira every month.

He argued that PHEDC has no right to disconnect any electricity line of any consumers while there was no regular monthly electricity supply to them. He added that electricity consumers of the state have at no time enjoy regular and steady power supply since the state was linked to the national grid years ago.

He said it has become characteristic of PHEDC to give epileptic power supply to the people only to then go ahead and distribute crazy bills at the end of every month, with threat of disconnection when failed to pay for electricity not supply and consumed.

He lamented that even calls to the power distribution company to distribute prepaid meters to individual consumer so as to put an end to the hike electricity tariff in the area, was paid a deaf ear.

"They averred" It is enough! PHEDC has defraud us a lot to eat fat. Days of slavery to PHEDC revenue collection agents is over. PHEDC should install Prepaid meters as directed by the federal government in order to know the actual amount of electricity consumed. After all, we are not seeing or using electricity. But, PHEDC will wait at each of every month ending, will bring light for two to three days to comouflage as if it wants to ensure constant electricity supply; and embark on collection of electricity bills, and after collection you will not see light till end of another month.

So, we are not stupid and fearful, but we must rise up to protect and preserve our rights against this fraudulent practices, deprivation and deliberate oppression.

He bemoaned that the level at which PHEDC is allegedly defrauding consumers in the state cannot be over-emphasized and is uncalled for.

According to him the era of paying electricity bills for blackout in the state is over, adding that the perennial epileptic power supply and blackout in the state has grossly hinder industrialization and infux of investors into the state, over two decades of state creation, despite the availability of raw materials. According to him, poor in the state, and even the rich could not afford such electricity bills.

“The bills that they are giving us now is too exorbitant; they should allow the power to be regular.

“With the way they are going, the poor will not be able to live in this country, as the standard of living is becoming unbearable for the ordinary man,” he said.

The body also endorsed the clarion call for reversal of power privatisation in the country to enhance regular electricity supply in the country, particularly Bàyelsa state that has not been enjoying constant electricity supply.

It would be recalled that an expert on power, Kunle Olubiyo, has called on the Federal Government to reverse privatisation of the power sector, describing it as a failure.

Olubiyo, who is President, of Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja, recently.

He said the way out of the incessant power supply hiccups was for the government to source money and pay back the investors.

“It is either the Federal Government do a mid-term review of the privatisation process or total reversal of the privatisation. We did not get it right and you cannot give something on anything.

“There is a high level of fiscal indiscipline, they make a huge sum of money, they gain the system and they don’t do remittance,” he noted.

Olubiyo said the money government had spent on post-privatisation in a supposedly private sector-driven industry was more than what the government was giving to the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

He continued: “The Federal Government needs to reset the process and in doing that, we need to do a total reversal.

“As little as transformers, buying of materials that are needed to be used in maintenance, these investors cannot even do that.

“If you have investors who cannot replace cables and expand the network, then the process is not working.”

The expert said it was the non-state actors, consumers that had been investing in materials to fix transformers and other electrical faults.

Olubiyo insisted that such investment does not come with a refund, insisting that the essence of privatisation had failed and was not fair to the economy.

“We need to get the economy up and running, electricity is the major enabler for growth, job creation and industralisation.

“If you don’t get it right with electricity, it will equally transcend into social insecurity because youths are not gainfully employed.

“When electricity is perfect and working, people will not be waiting for government, the private sector will drive the economy.

“If we can’t make progress, we should be able to go back to the drawing board where we were for a public interest,” he advised.

NAN recalls that the power sector was privatised in November 2013, with six power generation plants and 11 electricity distribution companies handed over to the private sector.

The Federal Government, however, retained control of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

The sector was unbundled and partially privatised to establish a competitive market intended to improve management and efficiency, attract private investment, increase generation, and provide a reliable and cost-efficient power supply.


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