An advocacy group, the Electricity Consumer Protection Forum has raised concerns about the 40 percent increase in the price of single-phase prepaid meters in Nigeria.
The group, speaking through its National Coordinator, Adeola Samuel-Ilori, expressed the concern in a statement on Friday in Lagos.
Samuel-Ilori said the increase was on the high side and demanded that the prepaid meter be made liberalised.
He urged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to consider the plight of electricity consumers in the country.
According to him, many electricity distribution companies (Discos) have been engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices during the installation process of prepaid meters.
He noted that these practices had led to consumer exploitation and lack of transparency.
According to him, a single-phase increased prepaid meter to N81,975.16k from N58,661.69k, and a three-phase prepaid meter to N143,836.10k from N109,684.36k.
“This is on the high side for an average consumer that is affected by dwindling purchase power which caused by the same reason adduced to get prepaid meters being increased by NERC, “Samuel-ilori said.
He, however, expressed dismay over the silence of NERC on the plight of customers and the way the Meter Asset Providers (MAP 2019) was carried out.
Samuel-Ilori noted that the MAP 2019 August was meant to allow consumers to pay and buy meters from approved MAP providers seamlessly, but was not so.
He added that despite the development, NERC had not addressed the situation, leaving customers feeling frustrated and unsupported.
He said, “It is common knowledge that the MAP providers interalia that customers will be surveyed, and payment made after survey establishes suitability and after payment, consumers are to be metre within ten days.
“This is not the practice and never has been and it is on record that many complaints have flooded the office, yet there has been no abatement to the practice to the extent the consumer paid and four months after they have not been metered.
“lt is not also a new thing that purchasing of meter and any other line materials should be the business of the distribution company.
“But, the reverse has been the case while consumers are made to experience the principle of double jeopardy in that while tariff has been increased twice since the advent of MAP.
“No consumer has received refund on meter purchased as contained in the MAP schedule 2019 till date.
He said the Discos neede to retain the technical aspects of activation and coding to allow the provisions in the section of Electricity Act, 2023.
The consumer group said that, based on the provision of the section 34 of Electricity Act, asked NERC as a matter of responsibility to mandate DisCos to install meters to customers within 10 days.
Samuel-Ilori called for stringent reprimand for failure, while consumers affected by the delay be compensated.
According to him, the group demands that the NERC activate the discos obligation to meter customers under their franchise area with time lag pursuant to section 114(2) of the Electricity Act, 2023.
Samuel-Ilori, therefore, called on NERC to ensure that the new order to the discos should include refunding consumers who had purchased meters in the past.
He suggested that their names be publicised and prioritised so that consumers would know before they start purchasing at the new approved price.