Journalism of Courage

Power outage: Rights groups join call for revocation of 11 DisCos’ licences as PENGASSAN, electricity workers insist

....privatisation of the energy sector a huge hoax, scam

For the umpteenth time, the Federal Government has been urged to revoke the licences of the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in the country.

The Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders Foundation, and the Campaign for Democracy, South East zone, made the call in a statement made available to journalists on Monday, after their strategic general meeting.

Describing as a huge hoax and scam the privatization of the sector by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the groups justified their call because of the inefficiency of the electricity providers.

The statement, signed by its national President, Dede Uzor, expressed shock that the All Progressives Congress administration of President Muhammadu Buhari still allowed the fraudulent scam to continue nearly eight years after they took over the reins of power.

The group lamented that there is nothing electricity distribution companies provide for Nigeria except to exploit and extort Nigerians by charging exorbitant crazy bills and manipulated prepaid billing system.

They accused the DISCOs of introducing fast reading metres by replacing the old ones, while they have bluntly refused to metre those people who are still in estimated billings so that they can continue to exploit them.

They lamented that in the face of all these high charges, the services are abysmally and criminally poor as they refuse to supply power to the consumers even when there is avalanche of power in the grid.

The rights group, however, noted that consumers have continued to bear the brunt of replacing packed up transformers, damaged parts and pay for the services rendered by staff or agents of DISCOs under duress and exploitations.

The DisCos are the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc, Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company Plc and Ikeja Electric Plc.

Others are Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company Plc, Kano Electricity Distribution Company Plc, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company Plc and Yola Electricity Distribution Company Plc.

Persecondnews recalls that the inefficiencies include incessant blackout, inability of Disco to evacuate energy generated, non-metering of houses of consumers, estimated billing among others.

The National Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, Joe Ajaero and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) had called on the government to revoke the licences of the electricity distribution companies (Discos) that have performed poorly.

The PENGASSAN, in a statement on the state of the nation, said power targets set by the current administration despite the availability of human and natural resources had been disappointing.

“In the face of all this, the services are still abysmally poor. There is low shading everywhere and sometimes, there would be no light for several days, weeks and months due to minor faults” especially in Fegge Onitsha, Onitsha, Iyiowa and Okpoko in Ogbaru LGA, Awada and Omogba in Idemili LGA, 33 among other areas.

“DISCOs have become conduit pipe and an avenue through which consumers are being exploited by privileged few who bought over the companies from the Federal Government in the name of privatisation through estimated and crazy bills without providing light.

“For those using prepaid metres, the DISCOs have installed fast-reading metres that make power consumption for the customers very expensive and exploitative. In addition to the inbuilt system, they made the metres enter into what they call tamper code,” PENGASSAN said.

The two rights groups specifically accused the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company of corruptive distribution of power and load shading in some commercial and residential areas in the South East.

It also called for the immediate overhaul of power system in Nigeria and removal of feeder mangers, managers, distribution managers, sectional heads and others involved in contributing to poor power supply in the entire South-East.

“We called on the Federal Government to develop other sources of generating power such as solar as well as allow companies, organisations and individuals who can generate their own power to do so and distribute without facing unnecessary bottleneck from the system.

“Unfortunately, the current administration has not demonstrated enough political will to improve power supply in the country.

“They have not done anything to improve power in the country. They cannot even compel the DISCOs to carry out the Federal Government metering programme.

“And that is why estimated billing system still persists as the major source of exploiting consumers,” the statement stressed.


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