The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), has come under fire as residents condemn the firm’s electricity disconnection strategy, saying it does not affect only the debtors but those who are debt free.
The General Secretary, South-South Youth Consultative, Enlightenment and Mobilisation Council, Comrade Christian Nnodim, said, “our investigation has shown that, in its revenue drive, PHED’s filed staff instead of cutting supply only to those owing the company, they now also disconnect a whole cluster and in the process even those who are not owing the company are also denied supply.
“This strategy is unfair and quite unjustifiable in all sense of business transactions. It is the responsibility of PHED to cut supply from only those indebted to it.”
Nnodim accused the company of lacking the necessary capacity to operate with such power infrastructure as prepaid meters, even when it earlier promised to flood the four states under its operations with thousands of prepaid meters.
“If you cannot protect the interest of innocent consumers that are not owing you, you cannot provide prepaid meter, instead resorting to crude and fraudulent estimated billing system in this digital era, then you are not there at all,” he said.
Expressing a similar opinion, Mr Moses Amadi, a businessman and resident of Choba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, condemned PHED, saying PHED is yet to prove that it has the capacity to power Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states which, according to him are strategic in the nation’s economic map.
“A situation where consumers do not get electricity and each time the light comes, it means the staff of the firm are informing you that in a day or two, the bill is coming. That is not the kind of company we need to power the much talked about diversified economy.”
He urged the Nigerian electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to end the estimated billing system which he described as a huge fraud on innocent Nigerians.
Another consumer, Judith Williamson, also blamed PHED for poor businesses in the four states under its coverage.
“Whatever you are doing as a businessman and woman, you dare not risk relying on PHED electricity supply unless you are joking in business. You have to burn so much on alternative supply,” she said.
Williamson who runs an hotel in Port Harcourt expressed dismay over the mode of business operation adopted by PHED, remarking that the standard of supply and billing system lack what it takes to power a modern and ambitious economic environment.
She appealed to the Federal Government to review the privatization of the power sector and do away with those DISCOs that lacks the capacity to render needed services.
“I keep asking, does it mean that the Federal Government has no way of assessing the performance standard of the private investors who took over power distribution in the country? If there is, then are they assumed to be meeting up to the standard? Until we get the issue of electricity supply right, Nigeria will remain a struggling developing nation,” she said.
The Manager, Corporate Communications PHED, Mr John Onyia, however, disagreed that the company only supplied light when the field staff are about coming to issue electricity bills.
Onyia attributed the poor supply in the area to inadequate supply of gas, explaining that the company is only limited by the gas level and noted that if gas supply improves, there would be improved supply as the firm is in business to distribute light to its customers.