By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has announced Abuja DisCo as the best performing DisCo in the third quarter of 2016.
The score according to the regulator was based on rates of collections, metering progress, health and safety, amongst other indicators.
Meanwhile, Okpai Power Plant was announced as the best performing thermal plant in the third quarter of 2016 while Shiroro was announced as the best performing hydroelectric plant.
The score for generating plants according to NERC, was based on availability and general compliance with industry standards.
Those were the fallout of the 11th monthly meeting of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola with Operators in the Power Sector, held at the Ikeja West Transmission Station, Ayobo, Lagos.
The Meeting, which was chaired by the Minister, was jointly hosted by Ikeja Electric and Egbin Power and, as usual, focused on identifying, discussing, and finding practical solutions to critical issues facing the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Fashola had stressed the need for Operators, especially in the distribution areas of the power sector, to endeavour to improve the quality of their service to consumers pointing out that the consumers being the ones paying the bills, must be treated with all care and respect.
The Minister urged the Operators to continue to train and retrain their personnel to recognize that the customer is king adding that even if they could not provide all that the customers required, they owed the customers a duty to explain what they were doing at any point in time.
He declared, “We owe a duty to fish out a few staff that are not dedicated and retrain or discard them. I know that they are not many but a few because we get constant reports and we know we have got staffs that are very dedicated. Our staff must know that without customers they don’t have a job”.
“Without the customer, we have no business and I think all those in the private sector understand that. If you don’t have the zeal and dedication to serve, please leave, it is a thankless task but it is a noble task to serve”, the Minister said.
On the frequent complaints of consumers, Fashola listed them to include issues around metering and billing urging, “We must build that trust and that confidence that is needed in service delivery. I have heard complaints of people being charged for things they shouldn’t be charged for. So all of us that are owners of this business must look inside and do whatever is possible to improve service.
Expressing confidence that there would be improved service in the New Year “if we work together and have understanding of each other”, the Minister thanked the Operators for their perseverance thus far. He also advised them, “We have spoken of Undercover Boss here before. Go round; ask the consumers what their experiences have been. It will inform your management decision about what to do”.
On the liquidity issue, Fashola, who acknowledged its challenges to the service providers, recalled his statements concerning the issue both before the meeting and in the past as well as to the Press in which he had explained government’s efforts, working with its development partners, both international and local, who, according to him, “have shown commitment and very inspiring appetite to play in this sector”.
“We are trying to see what we can do together in order to bring the liquidity issue under some control and from there solve the problem”, he said just as he also announced that the members of Parliament have also shown inspiring understanding of what the challenges are.
According to the Minister, “Quick decisions will be made now with collaboration and we will be fair but firm and we expect that people will respect the decisions. These, of course, are matters which the regulator, NERC, will deal with, Bulk Trader, NBET, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum in terms of gas and, in fact, all the players, will dovetail into one another”.
Speaking on what to expect in the New Year, Fashola noted that government has already listed and identified what the challenges were, adding, “What we are trying to finalize now is what comes first, what follows and what takes dominion, because in solving one problem we might solve three simultaneously and so on and so forth”.
Promising that government would keep in constant touch with the Operators as the issues evolved, the Minister said such constant interaction would also enable the operators to give their own side of the story adding, “We will also use this meeting to share details of what we are seeing and to hear what you are experiencing”.