The Benin Electricity Distribution Company has installed more than 25 per cent of its target 90,870 pre-paid meters for customers under the first phase of the National Mass Metering Programme, expected to end in the next three months.
The company disclosed this on Thursday in a communiqué after a Town Hall meeting on ‘Facilitating Metering and Combating Electricity Theft in BEDC States’ organised by the Stakeholders Democracy Network for stakeholders in the electricity sector in Benin City, Edo State.
According to the statement, BEDC plans to eliminate estimated billing for unmetered customers in its four franchise states of Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo over a period of six months as part of the NNMP.
“BEDC is now installing meters on the pole for customers in Bands A, B and C, as the initial focus to curtail energy theft and meter bypass. It has also begun community metering where transformers of over 600 communities have been metered so far,” the communiqué read in part.
While noting growing joint efforts by communities to combat electricity theft in the BEDC coverage areas, the communiqué added that metering under NNMP was free and customers need not pay.
It warned that BEDC and industry stakeholders could sue and be sued on account of electricity theft and consumer rights violation.
“The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is carrying out electricity consumer education and interfacing between customers and DisCos for complaints resolution,” the communiqué added.
It listed the challenges facing BEDC during the meter installation to include meter tampering, rejection of meters by some customers, aggressive and violent customer behaviour and extortion of some customers by agents for installation and procurement.
Noting assurances by the BEDC to customers that corrupt members of staff would be punished, it urged electricity customers approached for extortion to utilise the company’s whistle-blowing channels to report such corrupt acts.
The company assured stakeholders that it would immediately launch investigations into allegations of customer extortion over meter installation and procurement.
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