By Desmond Ejibas
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) has solicited partnership with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to enhance effective service delivery to its customers.
Mr John Onyi, PHED’s Head of Corporate Communication, made the request when a NAN delegation visited the company on Thursday in Port Harcourt.
He expressed optimism that sustained partnership with NAN would further drive the promotion and enlightenment campaign on efficient use of electricity in homes and offices.
“NAN is known for its objectivity as well as responsible and unbiased reportage through its effective system of disseminating news content to its subscribers all over the world.
“PHED is elated to collaborate with NAN. The agency is in a strategic position to educate and enlighten the public about the energy sector and our operations,’’ he said.
Onyi also said that PHED had been distributing electricity to its core mandate areas in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states with an installed capacity of 784 megawatts of electricity.
According to him, the company recently took delivery of electricity metres which are currently being distributed to homes and offices in the four South-South states.
“PHED has developed a robust metering plan and has provided about 3,300 of our Maximum Demand-Customers with smart pre-paid meters.
“We recently took delivery of about 25,000 metres, with 13,000 distributed while 12,000 are currently being distributed in phases.
“Additionally, 50,000 pre-paid metres have arrived and is currently at the sea port awaiting clearance.
“We are optimistic that by end of 2017, we would have taken delivery of over 150,000 metres which would address the yearnings of our customers,’’ he said.
Onyi also said indebtedness to the company was currently in excess of N106.8 billion, adding that this was affecting the company’s ability to upgrade and expand its facilities for improved electricity supply.
He said that apart from non-payment of bills by some customers, the company was particularly concerned with the high rate of energy theft and acts of vandalism against its facilities.
The PHED spokesman said the company had lost no fewer than 300 transformers of various sizes to vandals, adding that these had, however, been replaced.
“We are worried by the misconception held by some customers that since gas is generated from the Niger Delta, they will not pay for electricity.
“Aside this, some customers steal energy by diverting the load of air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances straight to the power source to evade charges.
“The challenge is that when people are apprehended for stealing energy and the matter is taken to court; the court always asks for evidence which is almost impossible to present,’’ he said.
Responding, NAN Zonal Manager, South-South, Mr Dianabasi Effiong, said that the agency took particular interest in consistent coverage of the energy sector, being critical to the development of the country.
He urged PHED to ensure equitable distribution of pre-paid metres to customers whenever they were available.
Effiong also said that metering of customers would address cases of over-estimated billing.
“NAN is a responsible national news agency in Africa which prides itself as always first with the news.
“Our esteemed organisation will continue to promote national unity and development of the country through fair and balanced reportage of events across the country,” he said.
The zonal manager also gave an assurance that the agency would continue to support PHED in its activities.