The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Tuesday reiterated the determination of the Ministry to hold power sector operators accountable to service commitments through its regulatory agencies ,even as he enumerated the benefits of the Multi-Year Tariff Order to Consumers.
Fashola, who spoke at the Mabushi Headquarters of the Ministry while hosting the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mrs. Dupe Atoki, also promised to raise standards in the Housing Sector saying the Housing Ministry would ensure that when a house is built either by government or private investors “it stays built”.
The Minister said although the role of his ministry is not to take sides, the new tariff regime has been made to protect the consumer as the Ministry ensures that DisCos and GenCos perform their responsibilities well and that they are held to their service levels adding that the Ministry also stands between them and consumers to ensure that they do not profiteer against consumers.
He told the Director General, “I think that this last tariff seeks to achieve much for consumers in my opinion and I will tell you why, people were complaining about fixed charge and people were saying why will they take my money; but this last tariff stopped fixed charge, that’s a consumer sensitive charge”.
“What the last tariff also did was to say how do we stand to address the metering gap between the consumers and the DisCos. It also tried to address the issue of estimated billing so that if you dispute your last bill because you don’t have a meter you cannot refuse to pay, pay what you believe you have consumed and you cannot be disconnected”, the Minister said.
According to Fashola, the onus is on the DisCos to prove that a consumer has used the power they seek payment for and they cannot prove that the consumer used power without measuring it “and they cannot measure the power without metering it and this was a way to incentivize metering”. He noted, however, that consumers seem not to fully understand the benefits of the tariff hence the present controversy.
Also identifying the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) as one of the challenges that should be resolved soon , the Minister declared, “you cannot take peoples’ money without providing the service for which they have paid. I was uncomfortable with that”.
He said the Ministry has ordered that that scheme be wound down so that people could get what they have paid for adding that it is the responsibility of the DisCos’ to provide meters for their consumers and so wind down what they have collected.
“We must bring mutual trust in the provision of power and those are some of the emerging issues again and if people have paid for something they deserve to have it and if you can’t do it wind down the scheme. Let’s hold you now fully responsible , you have a market tariff you go and meter. All of these things are happening at our monthly meetings and we are also holding the DisCos now to their committed timelines for metering and we are also asking them to file returns”, he said.
In the words of the Minister, “We ask them ‘who have you metered? We want to see the details if you tell us you have metered xyz’. This will be an ongoing exercise until we finish, we also need to be fair because if since 1960 that we started public power and we have not metered everybody when our population was not as much as this , do we honestly think this can happen in five months?”
“But ultimately this will happen because there is a business end to it and for those who are bringing in the meters they also need to bring in high quality meters because they have a duty to protect both the consumers and the DisCos”, Fashola said.
operation of estate developers and standardize housing development.
Thanking the Director General for the visit, Fashola, who said the visit provided him the opportunity, as head of the Ministry, to respond as a service agent, to the questions frequently asked by consumers, added that although he is heading a service organization that takes care of the needs of consumers, he is also a consumer.