By Ediri Ejoh
THE Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, yesterday, threw his weight behind popular resistance to estimated electricity bills not conforming to services delivered by the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs.
This, however, came as he assured operators in the power sector that measures were underway by the Federal Government to offset the huge debts owed the DISCOs especially by government agencies to enable better services delivering across the electricity value chain.
Speaking at the 12th Power Sector Stakeholders’ meeting, hosted by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC, in Ibadan, Fashola expressed dissatisfaction over the current challenges in the sector, which according to him, is due, largely, to facility vandalism.
His words, “I think the problems in the industries are well too known to us, such as sabotage of equipment and pipelines which have decommissioned power plants and the ability to provide up to 3000 megawatts of power to the national grid. Because of the damage of the gas pipelines, the 3500MW and 3800MW we have been able to keep on the grid over the last few months would be assisted greatly. If we can have the gas pipelines back, after which will enable us to add other 3000mw to the grid. That means we would be able to deliver well over 6000mw if the gas pipelines are safe.
“That sabotage has created debt problems which are liquidity, shortfall in power expectation and therefore, shortfalls in revenue recovery because consumers are much resistant to payment when they don’t have electricity. We see that Nigerians would prefer to pay more when the power is more stable. Of course, we are also familiar with the issues at the retail end, such as metering, estimated billings. The meeting is to ensure that all of us have an understanding of what the issues are and all of us have different roles to play in solving the problems.”
He, however, assured of efforts by the Federal Government to ensure debts owed the power sector are settled as soon as possible, adding “we have made some progress in resolving some of the liquidity issues. I believe that within the last one month, some of the payments that were due to some of you, ought to have been remitted by MBET as promised, and if they have not been, I assure you that it is only a matter of procedure and you would get the money.”