Business

Energy theft, meter bypass increase in S’East

Cases of energy theft, bypassing meters and allied criminal activities are increasing in the South-Eastern part of the country, as Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) battles with the menace daily.

The development, according to the spokesman, Enugu DisCo, Emeka Ezeh, is impacting negatively on the revenue base of the firm, as well as making it difficult for the company to meet its obligations to market operators.

In a statement signed by Ezeh and made available to New Telegraph, the issue has affected the operation of the company drastically, such that it is unable to render services to them as expected.

The statement quoted Ezeh as saying that one of the company’s high end customers was arrested by a task force recently, while trying to bypass meter in the area.

The customer, the statement further said, totally bypassed the meter installed in his facility and directly connected the armoured cables from the mains to the factory, a situation that kept the meter idle, while the customer was busy consuming energy.

He said: “It was gathered that the customer, now a third time offender in meter bypass, is in the habit of downing tools during the day (giving the impression of low business activity) only to resume full operations at night when EEDC officials must have all closed for the day. Luck, however, ran out on such customers when they were busted and caught in the act by the task force.”

Ezeh lamented the increasing rate at which the company’s high energy consuming customers were engaging in the act of sabotage, stressing that there was a need to nip the issue in the bud as soon as possible.

He said that one of the company’s customers at Ikenegbu Extension, Owerri, was apprehended the fourth time for engaging in meter tampering and illegal reconnection, while another one at Industrial Layout in Enugu has been caught thrice for engaging in similar offence.

According to him, the sector will continue to witness the negative impact of these infractions, if the issue is not well addressed.

Also, Ezeh said that a pre-paid meter that was connected to a residential building in Woliwo area of Onitsha, Anambra, was bypassed recently.

“When discovered by the team of task force, one of the occupants of the building resisted the team from disconnecting the building, thus, threatening them with cutlass. It took the intervention of the police to carry out the disconnection,” he said.

Ezeh noted that meter bypass accounted for the huge losses recorded by the distribution companies and this largely impacts negatively on the growth of the power sector

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He said that the company was investing in infrastructure in order to tackle the issue, stressing that the growth could not be sustained if customers continue to sabotage these efforts.

He advised erring customers to desist from such acts, in order not to be arrested by the taskforce.

 

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