Blackout/Highbills: Electricity Consumers Knock PHED

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Electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom state have accused the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution company (PHEDC) of fraudulently extorting members of the public without corresponding power supply.

The consumers say the power company has completely neglected their responsibilities to members of the public, but has only made circulation of outrageous bills the most regular and visible aspect of their services to Akwa Ibom people

Speaking with our correspondent in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Mr. Idongesit Ekpenyong, Resident of Anwa Nsa street, Uyo expressed disappointment that such fraudulent activities could be allowed to go unabated in the state.

Ekpenyong said the entire PHEDC team in Akwa Ibom have displayed high sense of irresponsibility and fraud against members of the public by forcefully and constantly placing charges for services not rendered.

He said the idea behind the estimated billing system was the company’s calculated plan to gain at the expense of the public as any appropriate billing system would have revealed the true state of services rendered.

Citing his street’s experience for instance, the consumer expressed disappointment that after one year of total blackout due to faulty transformer, the company, after  installation of a new transformer,  facilitated by one of the residents sent in bills covering the one year period of the total blackout.

His words: “Imagine a situation where you had no light in your area, not even a flash for one full year, and for this reason there was absolutely no point bringing in any bill, but after one year, one of the residents of the area facilitated installation of a new transformer, two weeks after the new transformer was installed, they brought in bills covering the entire periods of total blackout. So ridiculous it was that some flats were receiving bills of N150,000 and single rooms N50,000-70,000.

“As though such daylight robbery was not enough, the people came in after a month to disconnect cables from virtually every building because no one could understand or succumb to such level of fraud, and where would anyone have gotten such amount in this era of economic recession to pay to a company that did not flash light even for a minute during the period of such fraudulent charge.

“Some of us in this area had to go to their office to complain about the one full year of blackout,  the illegality of the bills sent, and they advised us to apply, which we did. Till this moment that I am speaking with you, our bills are still coming with those backlog of charges for power not supplied. They advised us to pay N2000 for reconnection, we did, but they did not come, they rather recommended an independent person who later came to reconnect on a separate charge.”

Ekpenyong therefore called on the Akwa Ibom State government to call the company to order by advising them to desist from robbing members of the public for services not rendered.

He suggested the need for the company to be properly monitored to ensure that their services justifies the amount charged members of the public.

Another consumer and resident of Akpan Ukpo, off Esuene street, Mr Isaiah Udofia complained that PHEDC by its activities has defiled ?every sense of responsibility and duty owed members of Akwa Ibom public.

According to Udofia, the company has adopted a strategy of supplying powers to most streets in Uyo just within 48 hours to distribution of bills, as a bait to lure the people to pay bills.

He said: “If you are resident in Uyo, observe these people closely,  you would notice that they usually bring light two days to the 15th day of every month that they usually go about to ?circulate bills, the moment they are done with bills circulation, such light will go off till same time next month.

“In addition to poor supply of power, the bills have also become so high that one is left to wonder if power bill is the only thing one should be doing with his monthly income. While some apartments are receiving bills of between N8-12,000 every month, single bedrooms are charged as high as N5000 every month, I honestly do not understand what these people are up to.”

In response to the public outcry on fraudulent and outrageous bills despite poor power supply by PHEDC, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has publicly criticized the power distribution company over  their ?illegal activities against electricity consumers.

This followed a notice of motion brought before the House by member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State constituency Mr. Aniekan Uko during one of its plenaries. The motion was titled: “The unwholesome and alleged fraudulent charges on electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State by PHEDC”

Uko frowned at a situation where electricity consumers in the state particularly in rural communities were made to pay accumulated tariff even when they never consumed or had power supply within those periods of time.

He prayed the house to urge the management of PHED Company to be responsible for the repairs, replacement and buying of broken down electricity equipments as stipulated by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC.

“A situation where electricity consumers including unmetered houses and communities neither enjoy quality electricity supply nor see light for months due to prolonged breakdown of electricity equipment like the transformer but made to replace, repair or buy the transformer is far from being transparent” he said

Lawmakers who spoke on the matter including Leader of the House and member representing Oruk Anam state constituency, Udo Kierian Akpan and member representing Mbo,  Samuel Ufuo stressed the need for the house us to interface with the management of the PHEDC and institutions especially affected by the situation.

This they submitted would help them to come up with a lasting solution to solving the lingering problem while taking into consideration that there was a similar motion brought before the house at the beginning of the year.

The Speaker Hon Onofiok Luke after listening to the submissions urged the House committee on Rural Development and Public Utilities and Committee on Commerce, Industry and Tourism to harmonize the two motions and report back to the house within two weeks.

Efforts to reach the Public Affairs managers of PHEDC, Mr John Onyi proved abortive as he neither attended to his calls not reply text messages

Source: The Nation

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