A bill seeking to prohibit the issuance of estimated electricity bill to electricity consumers in the country has passed second reading at the house of representatives.
The Electric power sector reform act (amendment bill), sponsored by Femi Gbajabiamila, leader of the house, proposes a legislation to criminalise such billings method.
By creating new sections 68 to 72 in the act to prohibit estimated billing in the country, the bill will make it a right of every Nigerian to have a prepaid meter.
Speaking at plenary on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila said the bill will address complaints of extortion by electricity consumers across the country.
Part of the provisions of the bill states: “Every electricity consumer in Nigeria shall apply to the electricity distribution company carrying out business within his jurisdiction for a pre-paid meter and such consumer shall pay the regulated fee for pre-paid meter to be installed in his premises and the electricity distribution company shall within 30 days of receiving the application and payment install the pre-paid meter applied for in the premises of the consumer.
“If a customer is not metered within 30 days after the application has been duly made, the relevant electricity distribution company is prohibited from refusing to connect the customer or disconnect the customer in the event that the customer has been connected or estimate his bills.”
Pally Iriase from Edo said rather than lessen the burden of payment for electricity, the estimated billing is “digging dip into people’s pocket.”
He also said: “The privatisation of NEPA has led us to financial oppression today.”
Mohammed Monguno from Borno said the bill should be passed in the interest of Nigerians.
“As representatives of the people, we are here to safeguard the interest of Nigerians. There is need for us to support this bill so that estimated billing will be rooted out of this country,” the lawmaker said.
Wale Raji from Lagos said the lawmakers should also look at the supply of transmission equipment in the country.
“We should not limit the bill on the criminalisation of estimated billing alone,” he said, adding: “There should be the supply of transformers to communities across the country.”
Thereafter, the bill was passed for second reading and referred to the house committee on power for further legislative action.