P/Harcourt disco urges FG, states to pay N10.2bn electricity debt

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By Desmond Ejibas
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) has urged both the Federal and State Governments to pay the N10.2 billion electricity bill they owed the company.

A statement issued by PHED’s Manager of Corporate Communication, Mr John Onyi, on Monday in Port Harcourt quoted the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Naveen Kapoor as demanding the payment of the debt.

It said Kapoor made the appeal when officials of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) visited PHED’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.

“PHED is dissatisfied over non-payment of electricity bills owed by various categories of customers that amount to over N138.5 billion as at the close of business in July 2018.

“Out of this figure, the Federal and states Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are indebted to PHED to the tune of over N10.2 billion.

“Our premium customers, otherwise known as Maximum Demand and Non-Maximum Demand, who are mostly residential customers are owing N13.7 billion and N115.2 billion, respectively,” he said.
Kapoor said aside the debt; the company was losing over N3 billion annually through diversion of electricity and outright meter bypass by some customers.

He said the company was also worried over the attitude of some customers, who erroneously believed and insisted that electricity was free for those who hailed from oil producing areas.

According to him, non-cost reflective tariff, non-implementation of minor tariff review and regulatory uncertainties in the industry had affected the company’s revenue and operations.

“If this trend continues unabated, it would further plunge the company into serious financial difficulties. It is a known fact that non-payment in any business is a killer.

“We appeal to NACCIMA to use its good offices in the various ministries to influence the federal government in settling the prolonged outstanding MDAs debt.

“We also appeal to our Maximum Demand customers to pay their bills as at when due. Making these payments will enable the company to invest more in its network,” he told NACCIMA.

Kapoor said in spite of challenges, the company had installed over 300,000 electric meters to homes and workplaces in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers and Rivers states.

The PHED boss said the company had also installed 23 “critical feeders” spread across the four states of its operations to improve electricity supply chain to industries.

“Additionally, the company has started enumerating its customer’s database as part of plans to end estimated billing of customers and improve service delivery,” he added.

The National President of NACCIMA, Mrs Iyalode Lawanson said the association would work with PHED to enable the company improve its service delivery to customers.

“We are partners in progress, and as such, we are here to show solidarity with PHED for partnering NACCIMA.
“In unity lies strength, and so, all hands must be on deck either in the private sector or public sector,” she said. (NAN)

Biola Lawal

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