When the Federal Government embarked on the liberalization of the nation’s power sector with the sell of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN; some few years ago, electricity consumers had high hopes that the change of baton would bring the desired energy they have always yearned for. It was this exercise that brought about what is known today as the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JED. With the coming of JED PLC customers in Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe etc which are being covered by the company had high expectation that the company’s services would improve in line with its new status, but there hasn’t been any improvement.
Recently the Managing Director of the Jos Electricity Distribution company (JED PLC) Mr. Gidado Madibbo disclosed that the company has begun the replacement of old meters with new smart meters free of charge. Mr. Modibbo disclosed that it was the company’s way of solving the problem of overbilling of customers in Plateau State and other states it supplies power to.
He said the company has procured about 180,000 smart meters, stressing that 10,000 meters have already been installed in some part of Jos as replacements to the old meters customers have been using for over 5 to 10 years which their performances he said were not optimal again in giving accurate reading of light consumptions like the smart meters.
According to him the company intends to install about 150,000 of the new smart meters by January 2017, as the installation exercise was still ongoing within their area of coverage in meeting with the meter needs of about 400,000 customers the company has at the moment of which 1million customers are expected to be covered by 2017.
Mr. Madibbo had while inspecting the newly installed 10,000 smart meters at Lahor community in Rayfield recently said “no one should pay money to anybody for these meters except those who are owning the company some light bills which can be spread for a longer period of time for the customer to pay those bill while his meter, be it analogue or prepaid will be replaced with the new smart meters. We are a responsible company and we know the current hardship Nigerians are passing through”.
The new smart meters, he added would be mounted on electric poles and has an inter phase in every costumers homes that will show details of light consumption and leftover units. He said “this new smart meters are credited by a code, customers can as well recharged it online and a poll can carry 3 to 4 meters mounted on a single poll to avoid vandalism”.
However, some customers in Jos who spoke to PLATEAU NEWS complained that JED was forcefully retrieving the prepaid meters that customers bought under PHCN and replacing them with inferior ones that customers were reluctant to collect.
The least an average customer paid for the Unistar meter was N45,000 for the single phase version, while others paid up to N65,000 for the multiple phased Unistar meter. However the current market price the company is selling the meters they call Smart is N25, 000 yet customers are forced to exchange their more expensive meters for the cheaper one.
The main argument of JED is that customers are short changing them with the old meters because the meters do not read anytime there is a low current, which in many cases runs for days at a stretch.
Ordinarily, customers are the ones that should complain against the low current since it sometimes destroy very expensive appliances. Customers complained that rather than finding a way of preventing the low current, the company is forcing customers to collect the new meters which will keep reading even when the current is low. This way, they will lose at both ends.
A source who did not want his name in print reveal to PLATEAU NEWS that JED is planning to remove all vending machines that will service customers that insist on keeping their Unistar meters so that they will not be able to recharge their card in the future.