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‘Why power theft should be criminalized’

The House of Representatives Committee on Privatization and Commercialization said huge debts and operational costs bedevilling the efficiency of the Distribution Companies (DisCos) call for immediate criminalization of power theft.

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Chairman of the Committee, Shadimu Mutiu (PDP, Lagos), stated this yesterday during a stakeholders meeting between the House Committee on Privatization and Commercialization and Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET), Distribution Companies (DisCos), and Generation Companies (GenCos).

Commenting on the challenges faced by energy agencies, Mutiu said, “Power thieves are big men in the society, people with gun and ammunition. It is also part of the problem.

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“The Discos and Gencos need institutional support because of the huge debt profile. If they leave here without policy relief, then, we have not done anything because their banks are aware of this meeting.”

He said the issue of estimated billing was also critical, hence the committee had been urged not to criminalize it as “it will shut down the whole system.”

Mr Ernest Mupwaya, MD/CEO, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), who spoke on behalf of all the DisCos in Nigeria, said distribution companies needed better infrastructure to improve on electricity supply.

He said the challenges facing DisCos required holistic, sustainable solutions, including “adjustment in tariffs so that there will be regular light,” pointing out that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government owe DisCos over N72 billion.

“It is important to point out that some government institutions are owing the DISCOs over N72bn and there are individuals and corporations who are by-passing meters and stealing energy,” Mupwaya said.

Head of Procurement, NBET, Dr Eugene Edeoga, lamented that the company is “technically dead and insolvent with huge liabilities” arising from over N800 billion owed it by the DisCos.

The Committee resolved to expedite actions to provide solutions to various challenges faced by NBET, Discos and GenCos, and by so doing, guarantee stable electricity supply to all Nigerians.

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