The initiative of bringing the whole country under the pre-paid electric meter is underway due to prevention of electricity wastage and prevention of stealing etc.
Meanwhile, the meters have been installed in different areas of the country. However, customers have been expressing their reluctances in using the meter due to additional bills, unwanted fees and non customer-friendly usage procedures, instead of advantages.
Human chains and protests are going on across the country to stop installation of prepaid meters.
Six state-owned organizations have undertaken all the tasks of establishing and managing these meters all over the country.
These are: Dhaka Electric Supply Company (DESCO), Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC), Rural Electrification Board (REB) or Palli Bidyut, Power Development Board (PDB), West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDCL) and Northern Electric Supply Company (Nesco).
The work of setting up prepaid meter had started in the country since 2017, to bring all electricity consumers of the country into prepaid meters by 2025. Nearly 17 lakh subscribers out of the country’s three crore electricity users are now using prepaid meters. But these meter users’ sufferings are increasing. The allegations about prepaid meters are mostly against Polli Bidyut. Recently, the company has started the expansion of prepaid meters in several districts around Dhaka with the help of 11 Samity.
Polli Bidyut is facing protest from local people everywhere while setting up the meter. In the last one week, locals in Gazipur, Narsingdi, Narayanganj and Pirojpur formed human chains and blocked highways protesting the installation of prepaid meter. In some places, the crowd besieged office of Polli Bidyut.
One of the key complaints of customers about Prepaid Meter is the excess electricity bill, unnecessarily imposing meter-centric fees on the customer (demand charges, VAT and taxes), lack of adequate space for meter installation and lack of adequate arrangements for meter recharge. Besides, as per meter rent, customers have to count Tk 40 to Tk 250 every month.
DESCO Chief Engineer (East Zonel) AKM Mohiuddin admitted that there were some allegations regarding prepaid meters. He told, there are some complaints from non-smart prepaid meters, not from users of smart prepaid meters. About three lakh out of 9 lakhs customers were bought under the prepaid meters. Of these, nearly two lakh subscribers are smart meters.
“Users of common prepaid meters have to go to vending stations to recharge the meter. However, those smart prepaid meters do not have to do this. They can recharge the meter at any time and at any time with mobile banking and bank credit or debit card. We are bringing Non-smart under Smart Prepaid meters”, he added.
On the other hand, the matter is under consideration of the ministry if the customers can be relieved from the meter rent, the DASCO official said.[Source;daily industry]