Electricity Consumers Owe PHED N128bn -CEO


The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) has cried out over nonpayment of electricity bills by consumers as it is being owed over N28 billion and suffers loss of N3 billion annually to energy theft.
The Chief Executive Officer of the distribution firm, Syed Taha, who stated this while welcoming members of House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation to its corporate headquarter in Port Harcourt last week, said it is worrisome that the outstanding debt, including pre-privatisation period owed PHED as at March this year, clocked N128billion.
Taha who was represented by the Chief People Officer, Mobolaji Ajani, stated that one of the major challenges facing the electricity industry is energy theft, describing it as a time bomb waiting to explode in destruction of properties, buildings and lives from fire outbreaks.
The Chief Executive revealed that the firm suffers a loss of over N3billion annually to energy theft as he said many of the company’s high and low tension poles have been destroyed by lorries,tippers and other vehicles arising from reckless driving and over speeding.
According to him, ”these incidents if not checked by the relevant regulatory agencies, may result into our customers being thrown into unwarranted darkness and loss of critical national assets in the country.
” We have lost over 300 transformers of various sizes to vandalism irrespective of the ones we have replaced. This act of vandalism extends to poles and cables which is further aggravated by agitation by affected communities, including the military”, he said.
On corporate social responsibility, Taha stated that PHED has demonstrated high level of responsiveness by embarking on ”Power Clinic” an initiative that affords her customers especially the aged to have access to basic free medical checks on their sugar level, blood pressure, eye test, among others.
According to him,” Aside the free medical checks, over 5000 school bags and writing materials have been distributed to school children in our coverage area”.
He explained further that the firm had donated football jerseys in a bid to encourage youths who have shown interest in sporting activities, adding that drugs have also been shared in rural communities.
Taha said the distribution of drugs to rural communities was done in partnership with the National Youth Service Corps, adding that the firm has other plans which focus on empowering the youth through small and medium entrepreneurship while leveraging on her model, yet budding energy efficiency programme.
The Chairman of the House of Reps Committee, Hon.Ahmed Yarima, said the National Assembly may present a motion to amend some of the clauses in the share purchase agreement in the privatisation and commercialisation of Public Enterprises of the Federal Government and PHED.
Yarima said the committee is determined to ensure that the right steps are taken towards resolving all challenges faced by PHED and other distribution firms.
He reminded that the committee is saddled with mandate, with all matters concerning privatisation and commercialisation of public enterprises under the Act and would send all findings to the National Council on Privatization (NCP) to ensure that the right steps are taken and challenges resolved.