…Calls for support over government’s efforts
Incessant power outage across the country has worsened for quite some years in spite of the huge amount that was expended on the sector. The country’s power institution has metamorphosed at different levels from one government to another to no avail.
Reacting to the ugly trend which has been blamed on the government motion without movement, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola urged electric distribution companies (DisCos) to improve the quality and capacity of their distribution equipment for improved power supply and service in order to stimulate consumer willingness to pay.
Fashola disclosed this recently at the 26th monthly power operators meeting in Umuahia, Abia State. According to him, “In order to improve service, we must accept our respective responsibilities and this is important for the purpose of identifying our respective roles and tasks.”
He asserted that while the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trade (NBET), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) act for Government to implement its enabling role, the immediate tasks of the DisCos, are to improve service to engender payment of bills; improve collection of revenues without extortion via estimated bills or hostility; remit what they collect in accordance with the agreement with NBET; take ownership of the Meter Asset Provider Regulations to improve supply of meters; and respond to consumer complaints and resolve them in a business-like manner.
On complaints that were raised by consumers, the ministry is getting a number of them in from different parts of the country, adding that such complaints should appropriately go to the DisCos and the private investors who own them and not the government.
The minister stressed further that “At the risk of repetition and for the sake of clarity, let me state that since the privatisation process of 2013, generation of power and distribution, which is supply to homes, offices, and markets, factories and consumers generally is now a private sector business.”The exceptions are the NIPP Projects, which the Federal Government is trying to complete and dispose of and Yola Distribution Company, which the investor surrendered.
The minister took time to explain that the role of government is to buy bulk power through NBET and vest in DisCos to retail to consumers, and to transport the power from the generation companies to the distribution companies. In his words, “Government, through NBET and TCN, is executing these tasks by signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Prospective Power Generators, where the terms are agreeable.”
Fashola said that government is investing in the expansion of the transmission capacity through the TCN by building more substations and expanding existing ones, to improve service capacity where the consumer demand has increased, and reinforcing the capacity of existing transmission lines.”At the moment, there are over 90 TCN projects for transmission expansion, which TCN will be commissioning nationwide in the next few weeks and months. Some are completed and some are nearing completion.”
Since it was a stakeholders’ meeting, the minister listed two of such projects due for unveiling including the expansion of Umuahia sub-station with a new 40MVA transformer to increase transmission capacity from 80 MVA to 120MVA to serve Umuahia, Isikwutor, Isukwuato, Bende, Umunneochi, Ikwano, Obowo, Ohafia and parts of Arochukwu among other places; and the expansion of Aba sub-station with a new 60MVA to increase service capacity from 127. 5 MVA to 187.5 MVA to serve Aba North and South, Ukwa East and West, Osisioma, Obioma-Ngwa, Isi ala Ngwa and environs.
Fashola spoke optimistically despite complaints expressed by some sections of the public that power situation has improved over the months and thanked the efforts and contributions of all those who have made the improved condition happen. The minister has always expressed his views on positive note that the present administration has improved power in the country. He has spoken in different fora that there is more power to generate from the Generating Companies (GenCos) but the DisCos had no capacity to distribute them due to antiquated and obsolete facilities which is not the fault of the government but the investors.