By Babajide Okeowo
Electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos have disclosed real reasons they always assumed ownership of equipment voluntarily made available by customers for use by Discos networks.
The DisCos under the umbrella body of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED on Monday explained that the move by DisCos had to do with indemnity and public safety.
“Many people have asked that question and the answer is simple, and we feel it is important to shed light on it for the sake of public awareness. It is a case of indemnity and protection.
The Discos take responsibility for any incident that happens with those infrastructure. It is important for Nigerians to understand that Discos have a responsibility to ensure that only good quality equipment duly certified by Nigerian Electricity Management and Safety Agency are installed in our network.
After installation, Discos have to take steps to protect such equipment such that it will be safe for use by customers. We have had occasions when some transformers that were installed in the days of PHCN, for instance in Lugbe, Abuja, caused electrocution” ANED’s Executive Director for Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, said in a statement issued in Abuja.
Oduntan said Discos needed to protect the equipment and ensure that access was only granted to qualified personnel, as some people had lost their lives because they were trying to maintain their transformers without being certified to do so.
“This is why we ask customers to write a letter of donation to the Discos. If the items do not belong to the Discos, they cannot exercise any right over the use of the items, nor should they bear liability for any incident that occurs thereafter,” he said.
According to the ANED’s spokesperson, “It is our responsibility as Discos to make electricity infrastructure available and we do a lot of this.
“However, in situations where the demand is far more than supply due to shortage of funds, customers do step in to help their communities.”
He stated that since privatisation, members of ANED had invested considerably on improvements in their networks since 2013.
“However, in reality where the absence of infrastructure is excruciatingly acute, and considering the huge cost of revamping inherited networks, it is understandable when customers decide to step in rather than take the option of waiting till resources needed to service their needs are appropriated by their respective Discos,” Oduntan stated.
He noted that the issue of community volunteering was clearly stipulated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
ANED stated that accusations surrounding disconnection and reconnection fees charged by Discos were unfair, as power disconnection was a legitimate recourse available to service providers under certain conditions. The association added that the reconnection fee was a penalty to dissuade repeat offenders and cover cost.