Abuja residents groan under AEDC’s prepaid meters fraud, auto reclosure on 33KVA

 The recent rollout of mass metering by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has failed to provide the needed relief from estimated bills and has rather compounded huge problems for customers, an investigation has revealed.

For some residents, the rollout was welcomed with open arms, however, the relief was for only a moment as staff of AEDC is giving meters with existing liabilities (debt) to new customers.

Further investigation revealed that staff of the electricity company is diverting meters meant for some customers and selling same to others, with these meters having the liabilities of the actual owners.

Back in November 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari had announced plans to distribute 1 million free prepaid meters to Nigerians, as part of the Federal government agreement with the NLC over the fuel subsidy and electricity tariff hike.

In January 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disbursed N14.35 billion to DisCos to cover the procurement of 263,860 meters under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).

According to the breakdown, AEDC got approved meters allocation of 101,186 units (10.1%).

Consumers who spoke with DAILY POST expressed disappointment with the programme. A resident at Asokoro Extension in Abuja said staff of the AEDC is committing fraud.

For fear of retaliation, the customer preferred not to be named.

“My landlord applied for 6 meters for my compound, he paid about 400 thousand. In January, we got one. When we tried to buy units on the meter, about 25 percent was deducted for ‘existing liability. It was surprising for us because we have no existing liability. The previous month before they brought the meter, they gave us a huge bill of 34,000, which we cleared. When we contacted AEDC, we were told we have 48,000 liability.

“The most painful part is that we have even sent a mail to NERC, nothing has happened. Now, they have brought more prepaid meters, all of them are having existing debt on them.”

DAILY POST also examined 10 meters in the neighbourhood with similar complaints. Most have resigned to their fate.

Another customer, Abdullahi Garba lamented the activities of the AEDC.

“In this compound, we have a meter on band A, we have another on band B, and others on band C. Despite charging us for band A, but we don’t get light up to 12 hours daily. The level of fraud going on over there is mind-blowing. I have written several letters to the AEDC, yet, they have not resolved it. This is fraud.

“There is a great level of inequality with the light, why charge us for Band A, but give us Band C light?.”

He added, “We will have to go to the NERC forum to complain. What is the essence of privatization where we are treated as though they are doing us a favour?”

DAILY POST made effort to get reactions from AEDC. Details of the meters were sent to the General Manager Corporate Communications of the AEDC, Fadipe Oyebode, however, responses have been slow.

Auto reclosure on 33KVA

Consumers in Kubwa/Dutse, Ushafa and Bwari, and some satellite towns outside Abuja are also getting the short end of the deal from AEDC. Despite being within the 33 KVA infrastructure, an auto reclosure has been fixed on the transmission to regulate the power supply to the area as the people hardly get up to 6 hours of power supply in a day. DAILY POST recalls that the government is against placing auto reclosure on transmission lines and regards such action as illegal.

Auto reclosing is a phenomenon in which the breaker tries to reconnect the line between two points with the delay or without delay. In this case, the essence is to delay in order to minimize cost of maintenance as well as running cost, it was gathered.

A source said that it is difficult to understand why AEDC that is interested in generating funds be auto reclosing a 33KVA power line.

Reacting to the predicament of the people of Kubwa/Dutse, Ushafa/Bwari, Mr Fadipe said even the 33 KVA cannot guarantee interruptions.

“That one is not strange, generation has dropped. There is no consumer in this country that does not suffer one form of interruption or another. That is the common thing, even if you are on 33 KVA, you will still suffer some form of interruptions.

“The point is, that they are on 33 KVA does not mean they will have light for 24/7. We don’t have that luxury, but they can enjoy more than the rest.”

But an insider source said the problem of the aforementioned areas is the auto reclosure placed on them.

Reps investigation

On the 20th of May, the House of Representatives mandated its committee on power to investigate the transfer of liabilities from old customers to new ones.

This development followed an adopted motion wherein the committee was mandated to investigate.

For those affected, the investigation and prompt resolution would be timely.

Daily Post

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