Home Interview ‘Any house without prepaid meters, owner will be jailed’
Interview - 4 weeks ago

‘Any house without prepaid meters, owner will be jailed’

 

Special Adviser on Energy to Ondo State Governor, His Excellency Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Engr. Johnson Alabi has vowed that any landlord who refused to provide prepaid meters in his or her house would be sent to jail. In this interview, Alabi speaks extensively on the O’Datiwa Meter Mass Metering programme for Ondo State Residents and measures taken to ensure strict compliance.

Excerpts.

 

Has the State Government met with officials of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and what was the outcome of the meeting on the O’Datiwa Meter?

The State Government through my office has been engaging with the BEDC officials and we have informed them. The step we are taking is prompted by the rate at which our people complain of estimated billings within the State. We understand that there have been a lot of fracas between the DISCO operating here and the people.

Many people have been complaining that there won’t be electricity for a whole month and at the end of the month, BEDC officials would bring bills of what they don’t use, so we don’t want this to continue.

You know, when people purchase tokens on their meters, they will use them if there is light, and if there is no light, it will remain like that, but people without meters are being shortchanged because of monthly bills even when consumers don’t use such electricity.

Unfortunately, the BEDC seems to prefer this. Whether they produce power or not, they will bring bills and Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa has frowned at it that his people should not be exploited anymore and that is why we are taking these steps to bring in our meters.

What the law says is that every State can produce its meters and that is what Ondo State is doing at the moment.

We are bringing in our meters and we have discussed with the BEDC that they will accept the meters into their network. There is no two way about it. We are following the law and everyone must comply accordingly.

What are the sanctions for either the BEDC or Residents for violating this new metering programme ?

Yes, there are varieties of sanctions that could happen through the regulator which is the Ondo State Electricity Regulatory Bureau. According to the Ondo State Electric Power Sector Law which says that fines could be imposed or some other nature of disciplines could be meted on them.
Likewise, we are also going to ensure that residents comply with this order that every consumer of electricity in Ondo State must be metered.

As a matter of fact, with the new order in Ondo State, any consumer of electricity that doesn’t have a meter has committed crimes. It is now an offense to run your house without a meter in Ondo State.

We are very serious about it. We want the DISCO operating here to know that we are assisting them. Even though it may not pay them now, it will pay them later because Ondo State is taking over the activities of both power generation, power distribution, and power transmission.

We are looking at a situation whereby when we take over, we don’t run into losses. For us to prepare for that time, we have to start from now and that is exactly what we are doing.

We are going to set up Special Offences Mobile Courts to ensure strict compliance to prosecute offenders.

We want to encourage our people to key into O’Datiwa Meter. DISCO has come to tell us they want to sell meters at a very exorbitant price, but the State has decided to subsidise whatever we are having now to sell cheaper than that of DISCO in Ondo State.

How much is the State Government selling the meters?

Our meters inclusive of Value Added Tax  (VAT), Is N110,000 for the single phase and for 3-phase, we have N200,000.

Are the Meters movable for consumers especially tenants?

Meters are not the property of individuals. It is the property of the DISCO but that is what we are doing now. If anyone is given a meter, you are given the meter in that name and we ensure that the disco pays back through energy vending with time. They are going to be paying back the cost of the meter. Consumers are only paying for it at the beginning of the sale but with time, there is a way and arrangement to refund them. So the meter is their exclusive right. However, that meter can move but if it is going to move, consumers must inform the disco that is operating it.

Would the State government take measures against delayed delivery of meters to Subscribers?

That is one of the bottlenecks the Ondo State Government is trying to remove. In the order that we recently released, consumers have two days after registration, BEDC must go and do the technical evaluation on the premises using the meter. That is what the law says and after two days when payment is made, the Meter will be in your house for usage. So within about a week, you have the Meter installed in your house.

How many meters are you starting within the first phase?

Ondo State Government for the first phase is bringing in 10,000 meters. The processes have been concluded and any moment from now, they will be rolled out.

Is ‘O Datiwa Meters’ for Akure alone ?

Alabi : O’Datiwa Meter is not only for Akure. It is for the entire state. You know the metering gap in Ondo State is probably going up to 256,000 and we are starting with just about 10, 000 meters so within a space of about a month or two, we should be able to do 10,000 and roll it over. Though we are starting from Akure, very soon, we are going to have our contacts in all other Local Governments and meters will cut across all the 18 Local Government areas of the State.

When is the registration starting?

Registration will begin almost immediately. In the next one or two days, people will begin registration. Our office is open and people can start coming to register.

How Quality are the Meters?

The meters we are using now are the same meters that BEDC has been working with. Some of them are better than what we have been using before in the State because these are 4G meters. It has GPRS, it can communicate, we can know when people want to bypass Cable, it will signal and we will know from here because the backend software will be with us. The issue of bypassing cable will also be eradicated with time.

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