• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Power supply restored to Rivers as Afam host community, PHED suspend dispute

Nigeria brightens chances of attracting World Bank’s $750m support on ‘improved’ power sector reforms

Power supply has been restored in Rivers State, especially in Port Harcourt, after face-off between the Afam community that hosts the power plants that feed the national grid and the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEP).

The cause of the wrangling, the N5.8bn allegedly owed by the Oyigbo community to the PHED between 2013 and now, remains unresolved.

The restoration may have come as a resolve of intervention of stakeholders such as the Afam Power Company, SPDC, TCN, Rivers State Ministry of Power and the Oyigbo local council area authority.

The underlining causes of dispute and crisis, being the N5.8bn debt owed to PHED and the demand for free power supply or subsidised bills, remain untouched.

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Briefing newsmen on the matter, PHED’s CEO, Henry Ajagbawa, said the company has engaged the Oyigbo and Afam people 10 times on the issue of non-payment of bills, but regretted that no substantial solution has been recorded.
“As at today, what they owe us is N5.8bn, and the question is if they owe us so much, why do they still shut down our system?” he said.
The CEO who was represented by the General Manager (Ochuko), Amah Ochuko, however said that Ndoki Urban still has light because they pay up to 30 per cent of their bills.

He said the issue is being resolved as the Oyigbo youths left the flow station following the intervention of some stakeholders, adding that the company is working with the stakeholders to ensure that such incident does not reoccur.

The company however wants its customers to understand that it is a profit-oriented firm that must make returns on investment and source investment capital with interest like others. The CEO said PHED, which was privatized in November 2013, is thus committed to rendering efficient services in the area of distribution of light to its numerous customers across Rivers State and the four states.

The MD said: “As you all know, as a business concern, what we do is to receive energy from the national grid and we receive it at a cost and from November 1st 2013, we have been able to serve our customers satisfactorily and keep improving on daily basis.”

He said the company has over one million customers but only about half of that number is in its database, a development he regretted is making PHED lose over 50 per cent of its revenue.

He went on: “If we’re serving our customers and we have only 50 per cent of them on our database, then we’re losing much money. Of that 50 per cent, only one third of these customers are metered and that is why you see us engaging in so many campaigns to ensure that our energy is not consumed freely. As you know, we must account for the 6.5 per cent of the energy we get from the national grid.”

He said PHED was facing numerous challenges in trying to serve its customers. “The south-south people of Nigeria in particular perceive energy consumption as social service. This cannot be real because we have infrastructural facilities to maintain, we have capital investments to make; and to do that, we need finance. We all know today that the banking sector is not an easy place to get funds from.”

The PHED MD said to serve their customers, the company needs funds, adding that other challenges apart from funding, include vandalization and energy theft; laws that are not fully implemented, tampering of meters, maintaining the staff, and many more.

“If all these things are put in place, I don’t think we will be in the position that we are today.” He said as a result of these challenges, their revenue is half of what they earlier projected.

“We projected to generate up to five billion naira, but as at today, we’re just about half of what we anticipated,” he said.