No fewer than 600 workers of meter manufacturers have lost their jobs in the past six months due to lack of patronage.
According to the companies speaking under the aegis of Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN), the sack became imperative because of poor revenue generation.
The association said they could not cope with their overhead costs in view of the prevailing industry challenges, including low patronage of their products by the electricity distribution companies (DisCos), weak exchange rate of the Naira to Dollar and other foreign currencies.
It listed companies such as MOMAS Nigeria Limited which sacked about 220 workers, Unistar Nigeria Limited, 100 Mojec Nigeria Limited, 100 and Emcon Nigeria Limited,100.
EMMAN’s spokesman Ibrahim Muhideen, who confirmed the staff downsizing, said more workers would go except something was done to address the meter manufacturers’ problems, such as poor patronage to enable them boost their income.
Muhideen said the companies were operating below capacity, a development, which rendered many of their workers redundant.
Describing the development as rather unfortunate, he urged the federal government to intervene by liberalising the meter market to allow EMMAN members sell to individuals and corporate organisations by the vendors approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
He said: “The government should liberalise the meter market so that individuals can also buy meters from approved NERC vendors and installers.
If the market is liberalised, more electricity consumers will be metered and it will go a long way in addressing problems such as crazy and estimated billing system that is currently being battled by consumers.”
He urged government to allow meter manufacturers sell meters to the consumers because some distribution firms were not willing to give meters to customers.
Reacting to the development, the Chief Executive Officer, MOMAS Nigeria Limited, Kola Balogun, confirmed that his firm retrenched over 200 workers.
He said the wage bill was high, and that the firm cannot afford to continue to pay salaries.
He warned that more people would lose their jobs across board,if the situation does not improve.
He said: “Despite the fact that our production lines have been improved to meet international standards, coupled with the high quality meters we produce, the electricity distribution companies don’t patronise us. Only Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and Port Harcourt Distribution Company (PHDC) buy from us. But that is not enough. Thousands of meters are in the store because there is no patronage.”