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PHED gets into profit zone as Disco nets 60 per cent of bills

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For the first time, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) has recorded a profit in 2020 trading transactions, Henry Ajagbawa (Ph.D.), managing director disclosed.

This is as the CEO has disclosed that a lien has been placed on accounts of Discos by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) such that the authorities have to counter-sign before any money leaves the accounts. This he said is to deduct at the source the cost of power supplied the Discos.

Ajagbawa made the disclosures at a media parley in Port Harcourt, Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

Ajagbawa said the profit may not be seen in cash but that the books have shown that there has been some profit at the end of the 2020 audited account.

Read Also: PHED boss decries rising wave of electricity facility vandalism

He said the positives seen in the books came from hard policies and reshaping of the Disco that made the workforce lean to the bones but with high efficiency of those left to work. He enumerated many measures so far introduced to bring in efficiency, discipline, professionalism, and profitability, making service delivery to customers the cardinal focus.

The CEO said when he came to head the PHED on January 2020, the company was recovering only about 50 per cent of the bills distributed, now, they are collecting up to 65 per cent. He said 85 per cent recovery is what would make the company comfortable.

“No trader will remain in business by supplying products and collecting half the value of what was supplied. If I supply something, I need 100 per cent of the payment to enable me to buy and supply again.”

Ajagbawa said those clamouring for adequate power supply must also endeavour to pay 100 per cent of what they consumed so that the Discos can remain in business.

He added that the focus of the company is on paying the customers, hinting that areas that pay bills are given more attention than areas that ignore bills or carry out bypass.

Ajagbawa said the PHED and all Discos buy power from the government and sell to customers, and that Discos accounts are under watch by the CBN, meaning that the money there does not belong to the Discos alone.

He said it is unfair for most persons to insist on free power and stolen power whereas the Discos buy the power they supply and their accounts are under external control or supervision.

“They press us but we cannot press those who buy from us. We operate under NERC regulations”.

He said most customers demand new transformers when they do not pay for power to some reasonable extent. “Give me assurance of 100 per cent clearance of your bill and I will replace your faulty transformer”.

On metering, he said customers who have pre-paid meters tend to do a bypass and steal power. He said three meter programmes are running at the moment: The Meter Asset Provider (MAP) where a customer pays either N63,000 for one phase or N117,000 for three-phase one. The meter is free but by paying upfront, the customer gets a refund through what he called energy credit back until the amount is liquidated.

The second involved a customer going to his bank to finance the meter acquisition and get a refund later. The third is waiting for the federal government’s free mass meter scheme which is installed free of any charge from the onset.

Ajagbawa said PHED has so far installed the 79,000 prepaid meters received from the Federal Government and waiting for the next batch.