The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), said that its indebtedness to electricity generating companies, GENCOs, was not deliberate and blamed the development on challenges confronting the electricity industry.
Mr. Abimbola Odubiyi, Director, Corporate Services, AEDC, disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, attributed the indebtedness to systemic problem, adding however, that there are moves to address the issue.
Odubiyi said, “We are supposed to pass the increase on to our customers but we cannot. So that is where we have the shortfall. It is a systemic problem, it is not a deliberate problem and not that the discos do not want to pay the Gencos the full price. For our company, we are paying our obligations, but have a shortfall.
“We have a shortfall on our obligations to the Gencos just like every DISCOs. But it is a systemic industry problem which is aggravated by the fact that every month the cost for the GENCOs is increasing due to the Naira-Dollar exchange rate whereas we cannot increase our own tariff every month.
He also lamented the challenges AEDC has within its coverage which he said include incessant vandalisation of its assets and inadequate generation of power.
The distribution end in Nigeria faces a lot of challenges, first the issue of customers have not paid or are reluctant to pay; the issue of theft is very rampant; by-passing and tempering with meter, some refuse to pay outright, then the problem of vandalization of our equipment, including cables, feeder-pillars usually it is very rampant, people steal our cables, feeder-pillars and other assets.
However, he said there has been collaboration with all security agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Department of State Security, but they cannot be everywhere to secure their power infrastructure. He also advocated a legislation that would make people pay their electricity bill instead to allow the sector suffer.
He also said, “We need laws to strengthen the laws that will really penalise those who deliberately do not want to pay their bills. Right now people are getting away with it because there is no law or sanction against them. The power sector is one of the unfortunate industries we have in this country, where people owe and get away with it, chronic debtors should be prosecuted and if found guilty be jailed and I believe the National Assembly would know what to do in terms of coming up with the penalties.”