Electricity bills: FG orders power firms to disconnect defaulting ministries, departments, agencies

The Federal Government has directed that Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that failed to pay their electricity bills within the stipulated time shall henceforth be disconnected.

It also directed the MDAs that were highly indebted in terms of payment of electricity bills to pay up or have the funds deducted from their 2014 budget.

The government modified its target of generating at least 7,000 megawatts of power before the end of this year, but instead set new targets of 4,500MW by June and 6,000MW by December.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, who disclosed these in Abuja on Wednesday, stated that President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered the power distribution companies to ensure that all government agencies were adequately metered.

Amadi spoke at the headquarters of the commission after the monthly meeting with chief executive officers and representatives of power distribution and generation companies as well as the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

He said, “The Federal Government has issued a circular that every government agency should pay their bills as provided in their budgets and the accountant-general is being mandated by the circular to deduct from source if after 90 days the agencies have not paid their bills.

“Even though we have communicated to the Discos the President’s directive that they should try and install prepaid meters for all government institutions, we also want to restate that every agency, whether government or private customer, must pay its bills or be cut off after due process.

“This is because we want to make sure that the suppliers of electricity services have enough revenue to continue to supply these services. So, we want to appeal to Nigerians as well as private and public companies, to pay their bills on time.”

Amadi explained that the NERC had written to the President on the need to inform government agencies that the power market had changed and was now being privately managed.

He added, “Therefore, they have to pay their bills on time. And if after some time they do not, based on our regulation, which provides processes for disconnecting a customer who defaults in payment, the Discos are at liberty to disconnect.

“We are also working hard to ensure that all forms of energy theft will be punished drastically. We cannot talk about improvement in the sector except we are prepared to play by the rules and pay for services.”

Reacting to the issue, the Managing Director, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Robert Dickerman, said there were a few agencies of government that might not be disconnected even if they were heavily indebted.

He said, “There are a few categories of customers that no one will disconnect. There are some of them, whether they owe us a lot of money or not, you just cannot disconnect them.

“For instance, you just can’t disconnect the hospital for health and safety reasons, and this is because we have an obligation when it comes to health and safety of the public.”

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