Tamale consumers kick against utility tariff hikes

Electricity metersUtility consumers in Tamale have pleaded with the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) not to grant  tariff upward adjustment proposals by the utilities service providers, because of their poor services to consumers.

They said frequent power outage, which tend to destroy electric appliances and the intermittent water shortage, do not merit tariff increment.

Mr Baba Amande, a consumer said at a stakeholders’ forum in Tamale that the service providers have no justification to demand tariff review because consumers are not satisfied with their performance.

The day’s forum is part of  a national exercise being conducted by the PURC to enable officials of the utility service providers namely, Volta River Authority of the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (VRA-NEDCO), Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to explain the need for tariff review.

Some of the participants also expressed concern about the lukewarm attitude of officials at the complaints office of the VRA towards consumers who go there to lay complaints and appealed to management to call the personnel to order.

Mr Francis Kusi, Director of Finance and Commercial of the VRA-NEDCO said yearly about 300 transformers are required to replace overloaded transformers, connect new customers and to reduce suppressed demands.

He said the company is cash trapped and needs funding to improve customer service delivery and connect the rural areas to the national grid.

“That is why we are proposing distribution service charge of GH¢0.2407 for the year 2013,” he said.

Mr Kusi explained that the demand for increment had been necessitated due to the various expansion projects and the replacement of ageing distribution network nationwide, which would enable the company to provide efficient and reliable service to its growing clients.

“As a matter of urgency we need to carry out distribution network mapping and data capture, upgrade the overloaded transformers and inject more transformers to improve the reliability and quality of supply from the transmission and sub-transmission systems.”

Mr Kusi said to improve revenue collection the company would soon introduce a new computerised billing system to address commercial losses and improve the billing process.

“As part of our effort to be customer oriented we will construct customer centre offices in the district capitals to improve customer service delivery”, he said

Mr Kenneth Ennin, Commercial Director of GWCL said the company sells a metre cube of water at GH¢0.86 for life line domestic consumers at a produced cost of GH¢1.46, which register a loss of 0.60 pesewas per metre cube.

He said due to the changing weather pattern the company in the last few years found it difficult to get water to treat due to drops in levels and flows during the dry season.

Mr Ennin said one of the challenges hindering the operation of the company is water theft through various illegal activities leading to loss of revenue, encroachment on pipelines and landed property as well as interruptions in power supply.

He said to improve their services management had acquired technology and tools to promptly fix leakages as well as strengthening, equipping and motivating loss control teams.

Source: GNA

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