The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) has called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to criminalise electricity theft saying the firm was losing N2.5bn monthly to thieves and vandals.
The electricity distribution company decried the activities of thieves and vandals saying they were hindering its efforts to ensure regular power supply to its consumers.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the Managing Director, PHEDC, Dr. Henry Ajagbawa, also lamented that some categories of consumers were not ready to pay for consumed energy.
He insisted that an Act to severely punish electricity thieves was urgently needed to act as deterrent to others adding that metering had not improved the revenue of the DisCos because of meter bypass.
He said: “We urge Nigerians to be fair with this industry. Customers should stop tampering with our meters, it is energy theft. Energy theft is one problem we are facing. There is a lot of meter bypass.
“They only way we can survive and improve on our services is when the customers pay their bills and stop meter bypass. We are coming after those involved in meter bypass and we will get what belongs to us.
“We need legislation to criminalise energy theft and vandalism of electricity facilities. If you criminalise it and make the consequences severe definitely we will have it better. Nigerians should learn to pay for energy consumed.
“When we have our staff involved in any corrupt act we discipline them, and everyone caught in the act have been punished. We are taking drastic but humane steps to stop corruption among the staff and customers.”
Ajagbawa denied allegations that the firm was planning to lay off 120 workers clarifying that nobody had been issued a sack letter.
He also explained that the firm was not owing workers as it was current with the payment of its employees.
He said despite his mistaken arrest by the state government while enforcing its lockdown, he remained in good relationship with the government.
He commended the state government for its contribution to improve the electricity sector by constructing some distribution centres to boost electricity supply in the state.