Following allegations of manipulations of smart meters levelled by Plateau residents against the Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JEDC, the company on Friday said it had suspended installation of smart prepaid meters.
The JEDC announced the suspension after the Nigeria Electricity Management Service Agency, NEMSA, which investigated the resident’s complaints, said the metres were not certified.
A representative of the aggrieved residents, Sam Tokz, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, confirmed the suspension of the installation via a telephone interview.
“The procedure for certification of any meter brought into Nigeria according to NEMSA is to first take the sample of the meter the company intends to import into Nigeria.
NEMSA will check and approve when it meets the consumption rate of Nigeria, where it does, approval is given for the DISCO to import in large quantity.
“The distribution company is expected to take it back to NEMSA to certify and calibrate each meter and further (stamp) their seals on it before the DISCO goes ahead to install,” he said.
Some of the other complaints by the residents included outrageous billings of the consumers, indiscriminate estimate of bills without letting consumers know the parameters used, and poor response to consumers’ complaints.
However, the JEDC spokesperson, Elijah Friday, explained that the introduction of the new meter was as a result of persistent complaints by consumers over the estimated billing system.
He alleged that the resistance to accept the new meter was because of the “sinister” motive of the consumers.
Mr. Friday rebuffed the allegation that the new smart meters were not certified and calibrated by NEMSA.
According to him, “The new meters were comprehensively certified and met standards,” he said.
“These meters were tested, completely tested. In short, when they came here, they said it was un-calibrated and I just laughed. If it had not been calibrated, then why are we mounting it?,” he added.
That claim has however been faulted by the regulator, NEMSA.
Friday’s suspension of the installation of the new meter by JEDC was as a result of Thursday’s tour by members of NEMSA to various residential areas in Jos.
Confirming Mr. Tokz’ earlier statement, the Managing Director of NEMSA, Peter Ewesor, said the installed meters were not certified by the agency.
“The smart meters currently being installed in Plateau are not certified by us and do not carry our seal,” he said.
The Managing Director of JEDC, Gidado Modibo, however said Mr. Ewesor’s claim was false. He also tendered documents and said that the meters were certified at the National Meter Testing Station in Kaduna by NEMSA in 2015.
Mr. Modibo, however, stated that the suspension of the meters would allow them undergo a new re-certification process by NEMSA.
He also reinstated the company’s efforts to replace wooden poles, adding that one of the challenges JEDC has been facing is the case of by-pass by consumers.
The JEDC has, however, not spoken of on the fate of the consumers who already have the smart meters.
When asked what would happen to people who already have the new smart meters installed in their homes, Mr. Tokz said, “We intend to go to court for compensation.”