Labour unions in the power sector have opposed a N39 billion by the Federal Government to Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to finance metering of consumers. According to the unions, the DISCOs in the country had run the companies for 4 years, and taking a loan shows they have done a poor job.
Joe Ajaero General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) opposed the proposed loans on the basis of poor performance by the DISCOs.
“If after four years of running as private companies you (power firms) are still looking for bail-out funds or loans, then I think there is a problem, because it shouldn’t be so,” he said.
Chris Okonkwo Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) advised DISCOs to look for alternatives.
“Labour will not accept the borrowing of N39bn by the Federal Government to Discos for the procurement of meters. We raised this issue at the Trade Union Congress meeting and we advice you (Discos) to start looking for alternatives,
They made the positions of their unions known at an event organized by the Abuja Distribution Company.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola had last week stated the Federal Government’s intention to lend discos the fund to metre customers.
Unions are not looking at the bigger picture
The unions have failed to take into cognisance the positive multiplier effects of the loan. The metres that would be purchased by the DISCOS would be locally manufactured, thus creating more jobs. Availabiliy of metres reduces the use of estimated metering, which consumers have kicked against as they are given exorbitant bills. Many are often unable to pay or deliberately refuse to. An increase in revenue for the DISCOS will enable them to pay down their debts to Generating Companies, GENCOs which also owe gas suppliers.