By Dipo Olowookere
Many customers of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) could not hide their excitement after the energy distribution firm installed free prepaid meters in their premises.
On Wednesday, IBEDC commenced the mass metering programme of the federal government aimed to bridge the wide metering gap in the country.
Last year, the federal government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an upward review of electricity tariff in the country.
This development caused the labour unions in the country to threaten a national strike but they were pacified to shelve the action especially it was coming shortly after the government eased lockdown in the country. It was projected that if the industrial action was allowed, the economy would suffer a huge loss.
As part of the agreement reached with the aggrieved workers, the government said it would launch a mass metering programme. This would see up to six million prepaid meter shared to consumers for free over a period of time. With this, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme, which made consumers to pay for the commodity, was technically suspended.
So, when IBEDC began to install the free prepaid meters, customers shouted for joy because it saved them the over N40,000 they would have paid to procure the gadget under the MAP programme.
They commended the federal government for the National Mass Metering programme, saying it is a relief from estimated billings.
One of the excited customers of IBEDC at Ikolaba, Ibadan, Mrs Oyetayo Adeosun, said she was happy to be one of the beneficiaries of the ongoing mass metering programme.
“The free meter that we got has been a great relief because before it has been an issue, especially with what we were billed in the past.
“But now, it’s been fair, we are going to pay what we consumed, Mrs Adeosun said.
Another customer, Mrs Bola Ayinde, stated that, “I am happy about the meter. God will bless Nigeria and Oyo State.”
On his part, Mr Amos Agboola, a customer at Ikolaba area, said the meter was given to him free of charge.
“Since it was installed, we see the energy usage. There has also been an improvement in the services. We can now monitor our usage and make payment for energy comfortably.
“I think it is a good improvement for both the consumers and distributors as it is connected to their network also,” Mr Agboola said.
In his remarks, Mr Ayo Adio, the Head of Customers’ Support at IBEDC, said sensitisation has been ongoing to let customers under its franchise areas to know that the installation of the meters is free.
Mr Adio, who spoke on behalf of the management of IBEDC, disclosed that, “Customers are not paying for them. The essence of this programme is to discourage estimated billings, which customers have been complaining about.
“We believe within few weeks, most of the customers designated to have these meters will have them installed in their premises.
“We have our strategy for distribution such that it will not depend on man-know-man. It is organised strategically to reach our customers for free.”
IBEDC had commenced the distribution of the 104,000 free meters provided by the federal government and locally manufactured over a month ago across all the areas of its franchise.
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