By Desmond Ejibas
Port Harcourt, Aug. 20, 2020 The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) on Thursday appealed to its customers to pay their electricity bill, insisting that electricity was no longer a social service.
The PHED Managing Director, Dr Henry Ajagbawa, made the appeal while briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt on the recent blackout in Rivers.
Represented by Mrs Ochuko Amah, PHED’s General Manager of Services, Ajagbawa said the company was owed billions of naira in revenue by customers in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers.
“People should understand that energy is not free. Even PHED as a company pays for the energy that it distributes to customers.
“It is rather unfortunate that most customers in the South-South see electricity as social service, and as such, refuse to pay for the energy they consume.
“PHED is a profit making organisation, and so, people who do not pay their energy bills should not expect to enjoy what they are not ready to pay for,” he said.
Ajagbawa said the company had incurred huge losses in its investments because of the erroneous perception that electricity was social service rather than essential service.
He said the loss in revenue had made it difficult for the company to carry out massive upgrade of its infrastructure, embark on repairs and make capital investments.
“The other areas that we have encountered challenges is the issue of energy theft, meter bypass, metering and assault of our staff by customers, among others.
“As at today, we serve over one million customers, but only 50 per cent of that number is on our database and pay electricity bills.
“Out of this percentage, only one third of the customers are the ones that fully pay their bills and this shows you how much money we are losing,” he added.
On recent shutdown of Afam Power Station by some angry Oyibo youths, the managing director said the company had held several meetings with critical stakeholders to resolve the matter.
He said the youths of communities hosting the power station, shut down the facility and demanded 24-hour power supply free of charge.
“These are the same communities, especially Ndoki 1 and Ndoki 2 that owe PHED over N5.83 billion in used energy.
“So, it is this same erroneous belief that energy is free that is giving them the boldness to say that they will not pay their electricity bill,” he said.