Eko disco and other matters

letterSIR: For the past one month, significant parts of the area under Eko Disco have not had power for more than two hours in every four days. This is the case with the sprawling estates in Badore, Ajah, including the huge Cooperative Villas Estate where the residents hardly owe on their electricity bills. Ironically, some former PHCN CEOs live here with me.

This must be the worst period of electricity supply in parts of the Ajah district in the Lekki Peninsula. It is a double tragedy that it is happening at a time of acute high temperature, which is as high as 33 degrees centigrade at night, to say nothing about the situation in the daytime.

To worsen matters, Eko DisCo has not bothered to tell affected customers the problems they are having, let alone apologise for the woeful supply or tell them when the problem is expected to be rectified. Yet, Eko Disco has a big department of public relations, headed by an Assistant General Manager (AGM).  Eko DisCo is a perfect example of the danger of transferring monopoly from the public sector to the private sector. Nigerians are concerned the monopoly as enjoyed by then PHCN has, for all practical purposes, continued unabated. This is because each of the Discos operates as a monopoly in its coverage area. A consumer cannot easily switch from, say, Eko Disco to Ikeja Disco which is far more efficient and far more professional.

The electricity firms continue to treat consumers with contempt, apart from exploiting them in a most unconscionable way. Despite repeated orders from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), they have refused to provide consumers with prepaid meters which shield consumers from paying for electricity not provided. As a result, prepaid meters are scarce.

The point one is making about the evil of monopoly by Discos is the urgent need for the Buhari administration to amend the 2007 Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act  so as to end this monopoly. Without breaking the monopoly, DisCos like the Eko Electric Distribution Company can never improve. And without the DisCos improving, the Nigerian national economy will remain a mess. And public confidence in the government will be at low ebb.

A far-reaching measure the Buhari administration can take is to review the so-called privatization of PHCN assets. The so-called competitive bids were won by firms which have no business in the electricity sector. The collapse of large sections of the area covered by the Eko Disco is only the shape of things to come. More areas are about to fail completely.
• Ezekiel Adelajah,
Lagos.



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