By Emmanuel Acha
Enugu – The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) says it has awarded a N10-billion contract to commence the first phase of customer metering, in a bid to provide all customers with pre-paid meters.
A Director and board member of the company, Dr. Stephen Dike, who made this known in Enugu on Friday, however, said that it would take the company five years to provide all its customers with meters.
Dike made this known while addressing the leadership of a protesting group at the headquarters of the EEDC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group, Gender Equality Movement (GEM), embarked on a protest over exorbitant bills and epileptic power supply in the state.
Dike told the group that it was not in the interest of the company and its customers to continue with the estimated billing method.
He explained that a metering scheme, initiated in 2014 after the EEDC took over from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2013, was truncated.
“When we took over, we started metering our customers in 2014. Sadly, about 85 per cent of the meters in Awkunanaw in Enugu were by-passed.
“We then decided to stop metering in order to come up with a meter that will be difficult to tamper with by customers.”
Dike said that the process of metering customers was not an easy one, adding that the pay-back period of one installed meter was 19 years.
“The cheapest pre-paid meter you can get is N30, 000 and it takes a minimum of 19 years to recoup the capital invested in one. In spite of that, people are bypassing.
“That was why we stopped metering because we have no choice than to look for the type of meter that will be difficult to by-pass.”
The director said that the company had lost much on investment, adding that some unscrupulous individuals had even gone to China to manufacture pre-paid meters using EEDC serial numbers.
On tariff, Dike said that it was the responsibility of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
“It is our desire to reduce the energy bill because it is not in our best interest. We are only following the NERC module of pricing.”
Dike said that the challenges of power supply in the South-East would soon be a thing of the past as the company was doing its best to overcome them.
Earlier, the leader of the protesting group, Mr Chukwudi Ojielo, said that the organisation was concerned over the high tariff charged EEDC customers even when electricity was not readily available.
Ojielo said that a current survey by the group revealed that the issue of high electricity tariff had added to the major challenges facing families.
“We did a survey and realised that our men are dying young due to the fact that they have assume more responsibilities and this include high electricity tariff.
“The issue of estimated billing should be addressed,” Ojielo said.