The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) and Residents of Church Road, Ikot Ekang in Ibiaku Itam, Itu local government area under the aegis of Land Lord/Ladies/Tenants Association are ready to sort out their electricity crisis in two weeks.
This was the outcome of the hearing held Thursday by the Uyo headquarters of the Nigerian Electricity Regulations Commission (NERC) at her office, 63 Osong-Ama Road, Uyo.
It could be recalled that the people had recently stormed the premises of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), Uyo office where they protested what they described as crazy bills, poor electricity supply and non replacement of damaged installation, while also returning the February bills and submitting a petition letter to the customer care representative.
Giving the directives after long deliberation during the hearing, the NERC chairman, Uyo office, Engr Uyai Ekaette FNSC noted that issues involving both parties were very critical and pathetic and insisted that they both deserved a time to negotiate and come up with acceptable position, same which should be communicated to the commission for ruling.
Uyai Ekaette lamented the plight of electricity consumers and sited the challenges of non-payment of electricity tariff by gullible users, which he said, has hampered adequate electricity supply and smooth service delivery in the country.
Engr Ekaette who viewed interventions by communities and consumers of electricity as ways of solving problems and helping to improve power supply in such environments, submitted that such agreement between both parties must be considered on the grounds of the huge commitment of Church Road residents in terms of acquisition of transformers and procurement of other valuable items which they said have amounted to about N7 million (seven million naira).
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the residents of Church Road, the adviser of the association, Prince Ene Baba-owo complained that PHED, for the past five years, has failed to live up to its obligation of supplying electricity to residents of the area as they have been having epileptic power supply due to technical inadequacies of the company.
He pointed out that since the upriser installation (installed by residents of the area three years back) that supplied light to the area got damaged on January 9, 2018, due to negligence of the company, they have not enjoyed sufficient power supply.
Saying the campaign promises of the present federal government regarding steady power supply has also been enhanced by the Akwa Ibom State government which has invested billions of naira into building sub stations across the three senatorial districts of the state, Baba-owo called on PHED to install prepaid metres in their premises so as not to sabotage government’s good intentions.
He accused PHED of hypnotising consumers with high estimated and called on them to reduce it and endeavour to live up to its biding of providing light rather than transforming itself into advocate of darkness.
He insisted that PHED must replace the upriser to enable the area have balanced light, give estimated bill that is in line with the prevailing situation with those who have metres within the area and withdraw the February bill which he said do not belong to them since they did not enjoy light that month.
He thanked NERC for rising to the occasion of meeting the poor electricity conditions of Akwa Ibom people, while assuring them that the people of the state would definitely be trooping into the office to lay their complaints.
Meanwhile, the Head, Customers Services of PHED, Dr Godwin Orovwiroro denied some of the claims by residents of Church Road, saying if users of electricity do not pay their bills, then it would be inappropriate for one to dream of adequate service provision.
However, a representative from Akwa Ibom Human Rights Commission, Clifford Thomas Esq, praised NERC for deliberating on the “excesses of PHED”, noting that they have begun a consumers education series which must be supported by all parties involved to enable electricity users know their rights and obligations.
While condemning situations where consumers of electricity are cheated and compelled to pay for unenjoyed services, Clifford Thomas believed that communities which have made efforts to settle electricity challenges should be considered in tariff charges.