FG recovers $64m electricity debt from Niger, Benin

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From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

MINISTER of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has revealed how the Federal Government recovered $64,630,065 electriity debt from the Republic of Niger and Benin Republic.

The minister, who spoke in Asaba, capital  of Delta State, yesterday, said the recovery was due to the commitment of government, to ensure reduction in international customers’ debt profile in the power sector.

Fashola, who made the disclosure at the 21st monthly power stakeholders’ meeting,  added that the sector was able to hit 7,000 megawatts due to the stable peace in the gas-producing area of the Niger Delta.

The minister said the peace contributed immensely towards the steady production and supply of gas to power projects.

He said for the first time in the history of power sector, hydro and gas combined to improve electricity needs of the country.

“This is a fair balance and now that the waters are going down, it is also time for us to prove our mettle by stabilising upward the power being generated,” he said.

The minister urged lawmakers to come up with legislation  prohibiting encroachment on the right of way of powerlines, vandalisation of electricity installations and another law that will support collection of bills.

Fashola enjoined consumers to avail themselves with opportunities at customers’ fora, and address their grievances rather than congesting the courts with litigations, especially against distribution companies.

The minister further urged consumers to pay their bills regularly without which Distribution Companies (DISCOS) would find it difficult to provide services.

He also said challenges facing consumers are estimated billings and insufficient meters, which he disclosed are being addressed by the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC).

On rural electricity agency aimed at improving power in core rural areas, the minister said guidelines have been completed while the Mambila Plateau electricity project, which has been on the drawing board for over 40 years, has being signed; to commence activity.

Earlier, the minister commissioned the 2x15MVA injection substation in Asaba.

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