The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC has assured electricity consumers in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Bayelsa states of its commitment to ensure that all disputes between consumers and distribution companies are satisfactorily resolved.
NERC commissioner in charge of Consumer Affairs, Mrs. Aisha Mahmud, stated this at the opening of a three-day consumer complaints resolution meeting holding in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The three day consumer complaints meeting brought together management and staff of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, civil society organizations, community leaders and other stakeholders to rub minds on how to satisfy millions of electricity consumers in the three states.
As expected, issues of poor power supply, low voltage, high estimated billings and poor response time to customer complaints were top on the complaints by the consumers.
The NERC commissioner in charge of consumer affairs, Mrs. Aisha Mahmud said the commission will always be ready to listen to electricity consumers who feel dissatisfied by the services of the distribution companies.
She said the town hall meeting is the initiative of the electricity regulator in Nigeria, aimed at ensuring that both distribution companies and the consumers play by the rules.
For the managing director, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, Dr. Henry Ajagbawa, represented by the chief service officer, Mrs. Ochuko Amah, the PHEDC is doing its best to satisfy the consumers in their area of franchise with her 24hrs call center.
According to her, some of the major challenges faced by the PHEDC include power theft and poor cooperation by majority of the consumers
Some consumers who attended the consumer complaints resolution meeting lamented the poor response time to customer complaints, indiscriminate disconnection of customers as well as some sharp practices of some staff of the distribution company, calling on the NERC and PHEDC to take customer satisfaction seriously.
In his remarks, the state director of the National Orientation Agency, Dr. Young Ayo Tamuno called on the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and the distribution company to decentralize subsequent complaints resolution meetings, to allow more aggrieved consumers, come forward to have their complaints resolved.
In her complaint, Madam Ugonma Anyanwu said, “My problem is that PHED over-billed me every month without regular power supply” adding that she pays the estimated bills with pains. Se lamented that though she has made several complains about the bills to PHED office, all these fell on deaf ears.
“As I speak to you now, they have given me a whooping bill of N120,000 which is too much and beyond my financial capacity to pay”, she said.
She however, expressed optimism that her complaint will be positively attended to.
Another customer, Chief Christian O. Wopara said: “For years PHED has been giving me high bills for light I have not been using. I have been to their office on many occasions to lay complaint without good response from them. I have a bill of N150,000 given to me but the only response I have gotten so far is that I should be paying gradually.
“So, I am here to lay my complaint and I am hopeful that since these NERC officials came from Abuja, something tangible will be done to correct this unexpected light bills.
Mrs. Comfort Nwate also stated, “I don’t understand a situation whereby one will have a metre and NEPA (PHED) officials will not come and read the metre but go ahead to give an estimated bill. Then it was analog, and the worst is that most times they don’t give light and one has to run his or her private generator and yet they bring you bills that you didn’t use. “Now, as I speak with you, they gave me a bill of N230,000 for what I don’t know. Several times, I have complained about this bill but they ask me to buy prepaid metre. With the prepaid metre the bills are still there uncleared. I hope by this meeting and complain they will rectify the bill since the officials are coming from Abuja.
Several persons interviewed, had one problem or the other about PHED over billing but expressed hope that something tangible would come out of the NERC and consumers meeting.
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