Thursday, February 22, 2024

Despite government’s directive, Abuja Electricity still selling metres at N82,855 per unit

A single-phase metre was pegged at N44,896 while a three-phase metre went for N82,855, the Gazette’s findings show.

• November 25, 2020
Electricity meters used to tell the story.
Electricity meters used to tell the story.

Three weeks after the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) said it had commenced installation of 101,000 free metres for its customers in line with the Federal Government’s mass metering programme (NMMP), the disco has, nonetheless, continued to issue the gadgets for a fee.

The cost of a single-phase metre was pegged at N44,896 while a three-phase metre went for N82,855, Peoples Gazette learnt Tuesday from the firm’s Lokogoma area office in the Wumba suburb of Abuja.

An AEDC customer service attendant had told the Gazette on November 18 that customers who applied for metre under the firm’s Meter Assets Providers (MAP) and Meter Service Charge (MSC) metering schemes will be routed through the NMMP free metering initiative.

“Please be informed that with the introduction of the National Mass Metering Programme, customers who requested for a metre under MAP/MSC will have their application processed with the NMMP free metering procedure. You will be notified as soon as you are scheduled for a meter,” the customer care agent said in line with the company policy.

Responding to queries from the Gazette on Tuesday, barely one week later, Abuja electricity spokesman Oyebode Fadipe defended the continuous sale of prepaid metres by the AEDC, while asking our correspondent to disregard the earlier statement by its customer service agent.

When our correspondent visited the AEDC Apo branch office on November 24, an official assured that metres were being given out for free through the NMPP at the agency’s Lokogoma Area office.

Further enquiries at the Lokogoma office, however, presented a different tale as an official said he was unaware of when the issuance of free metres would begin.

“I don’t know about that (NMPP) or when free metres will be distributed. For now, customers who want prepaid metres will have to pay for them,” he said.

When our correspondent accosted one of the company’s security officials, who actively attended to customer complaints, he maintained that the free metering scheme was yet to be implemented.

“Metres are not given for free,” he said, while following up with a snide remark: “The police say bail is free, but is it free?.”

When contacted on the development, Mr. Fadipe argued that the AEDC was running the NMMP free metering procedure side by side with its MAP scheme, which comes with a charge.

“Our modality for distribution is to first target customers with bad metres. We are therefore replacing bad meters first while the MAP programme is running side by side with it. Whoever told you NMMP has not started is not in the picture,” the AEDC spokesman told the Gazette today.

When the Gazette relayed Mr. Fadipe’s explanation to the agency’s customer care agent, noting that only customers with defective metres are currently eligible for free metering, the personnel replied “kindly ignore such information.”

The Gazette also learnt that customers requesting prepaid metres are mandated to complete their application form (Form 74) with a certification from either the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) or Licenced Electrical Contractors Association of Nigeria (LECAN).

Customers will have to make payments ranging from N5000 to N10,000 to agents of either of these regulatory bodies to process their applications, AEDC officials in Lokogoma told the Gazette.

“Please note that we do not charge any fee for the processing of your Form 74. However, we require a certification from LECAN or COREN. If you were charged by them, kindly note that it is independent of AEDC,” the customer care agent told our correspondent.

The Gazette had reported that the Abuja disco has yet to provide details on the number of metres so far installed across its franchise area of Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi and the FCT since the launch of the NMMP initiative on November 2.

The AEDC could not also provide data on projected metres distribution before the end of 2020.

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