The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), has appealed to the National Assembly to enact laws that will address the challenges of energy theft and its associated variables in the power industry.
The Port Harcourt Disco lamented that it loses a total of N3 billion on a yearly basis to energy theft.
The Chief Executive Officer of PHEDC, Mr Syed Taha, stated this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation paid an oversight visit to the company in Port Harcourt.
Taha, speaking through the Chief People Officer of the company, Mr. Mobolaji Ajani, solicited the lawmakers’ support in the industry for introduction of safe overhead materials in minimising electrical accidents, as well as enforcement of safety standard equipment in the network.
According to him, “Globally speaking, energy theft has been recognised as one of the major challenges facing the electricity industry, and of course PHED has not been spared.
“But we can tell you that it us a time bomb waiting to explode in the destruction of properties, buildings and lives from fire outbreak, so far we suffer a loss of over N3biilion annually to this ugly monster.
“It will be appreciated if our lawmakers will enact laws that will address the monstrous challenges of energy theft and its associated variables.”
The Port Harcourt Disco also lamented that apart from energy theft, vandalism and non payment of bills by consumers especially those in oil and gas producing communities of the region were also a major challenge facing the company.
“PHEDC has lost over 300 transformers of various sizes to this dastardly act of vandalism this year alone, irrespective of the ones we have replaced and so it is with other discos.
“It is only in Nigeria that transformer oil are sold in the market like vegetable oil. In Europe, transformer oil last for decades, but here we have to keep replacing transformer oil on a weekly basis due to vandalism.
“This act of vandalism extends to poles , cables and transformer oil which is further aggravated by agitation by affected communities including military establishment.
“Electricity in Nigeria, has been utterly misconstrued as a social service and therefore should be free, attempts made for demanding debt is met with hostility, arising from the perception that natural resources being used to generate the power are being tapped from their community.”
Responding, the Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Privatization and Commercialization, Mr. Ahmed Yerima, expressed the need to overhaul the whole system, added that the committee will find a middle ground in enacting laws to protect the consumers and the investors.
Yerima who charged PHEDC to be focused on finding solutions to the problems and not just complaining, however, assured that the committee will look at every angle to find a common ground while working on legislative intervention in resolving the issues.
“There is need to overhaul the system and create a mechanism where the consumer and the producer, Gencos and the Discos will be able to work together and to have an efficient power supply in the country.
“We have to understand that there is need to pay our bills because in the absence of power, the economy will never grow. It is basis of industrialization in everywhere in the world.
“The consumer also have some rights, as well as the discos, so we must create a system where there is a middle ground. So it is okay to have a law, but at the same time protect the consumers and the business investor in the power sector, so it’s a two way game.”