The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) has said that due to its zero tolerance policy on corruption, some staff of the company, found to have been involved in extortion and other fraudulent practices, were being dismissed regularly.
Mr Joseph Ayikowa, the General Manager Commercial of PHEDC made the disclosure during the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) public consultation with stakeholders, with the theme ‘Competition Transition Charge,’ and which held in Calabar, weekend.
During the event, consumers had complained of extortion by staff of the company particularly during transformers repairs/maintenance, lackadaisical attitude of some staff over plight of consumers when approached, total breakdown of transformers which they said plunged many communities in Calabar into darkness for months; exorbitant estimated billing system amongst others.
Responding, Ayikowa said, “We have zero tolerance for corruption and I have said severally and can be quoted anywhere, people are being dismissed on weekly or monthly basis when they go astray.
“When you are caught, we dismiss you, take you to the police and have you prosecuted. If somebody goes around and says he is a PHEDC staff, identify the person and let us know and we will discipline him. Corruption is not acceptable to us.”
He further said refusal of its numerous customers to pay their electricity bills running into millions of Naira was hampering its operations, submitting that it has capacity to tenaciously handle all challenges associated with electricity distribution in its catchment areas if customers could help pay their bills.
“The issues of bad transformers and other challenges have been arising. It is incumbent on the customer to play their part. We need funds to fix the assets that have gone bad. A situation where customers don’t pay and the debts are running into millions of Naira has definitely hampered our operations. These assets need to be repaired or replaced so it’s a partnership and we need fund to do that.
“The only thing customers owe us is to pay their bills and when they do, we fix the assets that have gone bad. When they don’t pay, it becomes difficult for us to react to these issues as quickly as possible,” he stated.
Also speaking, the Commissioner, Legal Licensing and Compliance of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dafe Akpeneye, said Nigerians should expect more efficient power supply as the country braces for the Competition Transition Charge in the power sector.
He said the CTC, which would create the platform for eligible electricity consumers who consume over two mega watts of power per hour to exit the Discos, is a balancing act which would enable large scale power consumers to balance out power consumed by smaller scale users for the overall efficiency of the sector.
“The CTC will create competition in the sector where by eligible consumers can be served by the Gencos. It may not equate to cheaper power but more efficient power supply. If an eligible consumer decides to opt out, the CTC is the balancing mechanism and will enable large scale power consumers to balance out the power used by small scale power consumers”, he disclosed