By: Akin Akinremi
Benin Electricity Distribution Plc. (BEDC) has announced 39,000 meter roll out for the first half of 2017 in compliance with the directive of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to distribution companies (discos) on massive metering of customers.
This initiative stemmed from the conclusion of the disco’s first quarter customer fora across its coverage states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states with a pledge by the management on improved service delivery
The roll-out plan announced to customers at each of the customer forum location in Benin, Warri, Akure and Ado-Ekiti, according to a statement from BEDC, is to be given to customers across the BEDC franchise areas, with a view to ensuring that power generated and distributed to customers were utilized in a most efficient manner and to avert illegal consumption of electricity so that it will be made available to paying customers.
Head of Metering, BEDC, Engr. Meshaic Okhumeode said the meter installation will be preceded by enumeration of customers on feeders servicing the earmarked locations to reduce power theft through bypass and illegal connections, adding that the meters will be mounted on the pole as against the practice of mounting it on residential premises, saying this will engender collective monitoring by residents within a neighbourhood and the service provider.
He also affirmed BEDC’s readiness to ensure total metering of its customers within the next five years, urging customers to be patient until the metering reaches them, as the metering will be done in batches.
In his opening remarks at the fora, Head of Key Clients Services Group, Mr Abel Enechaizam said the fora was designed to dialogue with BEDC customers on ways to serve them better, adding that issues bordering on operations and services and the customers’ expectations were being resolved.
Enechaizam told customers that there were five major stakeholders in power sector business namely; gas suppliers, generation companies (gencos), transmission, distribution companies (Discos) and consumers, stressing however that the customers were very key to the substance of the chain.
He explained that on the part of BEDC, some critical issues were equally affecting its ability to give customers the expected service delivery listing them to include non-payment of bills, low power generation, high energy theft, illegal connections and funding restrains occasioned by Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) limit and foreign exchange factor.
In his opening address to customers in Benin, Chief State Head, Edo State, Engr Fidelis Obishai assured them of BEDC’s readiness to improve service delivery especially in the area of power supply, but warned against the habit of vandalizing the company’s properties at the slightest anger.
Obishai who pointed out that the task of providing power supply to customers on regular basis was being affected by the challenge of system collapse and low generation of power to the grid, said this was invariably slowing down BEDC’s ability to meet customer expectations.
In his own speech during the customer forum in Warri, Chief State Head, Delta, Mr Ernest Edgar pledged that despite the challenges faced by BEDC, the company would still ensure that customers got the needed service delivery but warned customers to avoid all forms of illegal deals with some corrupt staff, lamenting that the high rate of theft of BEDC equipment and vandalisation was becoming worrisome.
“I also want to emphasize on this issue of vandalisation and violence. The level of violence and vandalization 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.
Edgar urged customers to pay all outstanding debts owed BEDC saying that it was the only way the company can work effectively to satisfy their expectations.
In Ondo and Ekiti states, the Chief States’ Head, Mrs. Kunbi Labiyi reiterated the commitment of BEDC staff and management to serve customers better despite challenges even as she declared that the metering roll-out plan was to gradually reduce the incidence of estimated billing.
She declared that BEDC was determined to provide better service delivery, adding that the processes of power generation transmission and distribution has become problematic because about 3,000 megawatts is presently being generated for 160million Nigerians, an amount she said was less than the amount required to adequately serve the people.
Mrs. Labiyi affirmed that BEDC only gets 9 per cent of energy generated as allocation which it distributes to about 800,000 customers in four states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states.
Customers across the franchise states who attended asked questions bordering on power supply, estimated billing, metering and transformer repair among others.