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.
Nigeria, Other Oil Producers Face Major Challenge – IEA
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies face stiff competition in 2020, the International Energy Agency has said, ahead of the oil producer group’s policy meeting next month.
“The OPEC+ countries face a major challenge in 2020 as demand for their crude is expected to fall sharply,” the Paris-based agency said in its latest monthly report.
Reuters reported that the IEA estimated non-OPEC supply growth would surge to 2.3 million barrels per day next year, compared to 1.8 million barrels per day in 2019, citing production from the United States, Brazil, Norway and Guyana.
“The hefty supply cushion that is likely to build up during the first half of next year will offer cold comfort to OPEC+ ministers gathering in Vienna at the start of next month,” it added.
While US supply rose by 145,000 bpd in October, the IEA said, a slowdown in activity that started earlier this year looks set to continue as companies prioritise capital discipline.
The IEA predicted that demand for crude oil from OPEC in 2020 will be 28.9 million bpd, one million bpd below the exporter club’s current production.
The recovery by OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, from attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure contributed 1.4 million bpd to the global oil supply increase in October of 1.5 million bpd.
“With plans underway for the Aramco IPO and the persistent need for revenues to fund the government budget, Riyadh has every incentive to keep oil prices supported,” the IEA said.
Saudi’s oil company Aramco, the world’s most profitable firm, starts a share sale on November 17 in an initial public offering that may raise between $20bn and $40bn.
It was the IEA’s last monthly report before the December 5 to 6 talks among OPEC states and partners led by Russia on whether to maintain supply curbs aimed at buoying prices and balancing the market.
PHED Warns Against Trading Under High Tension Lines
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, (PHED), has warned members of the public who are in the habit of trading under the high tension lines in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States to desist from it.
The distribution company gave the warning in a statement signed by its Manager, Corporate Communications, John Onyi, at the weekend.
He said the warning did not exclude those who are planning or have already erected structures under the power lines.
Onyi explained that the warning was a continuation of a public awareness campaign tagged “Why you should not trade under the high tension lines” organised by PHED at Abulonma, Port Harcourt, recently.
The PHED spokesman stated that many lives haD been lost due to non-adherence to safety standards, adding that last month, a 14-year old boy lost his life when a line snapped on Abuloma 11kv feeder and rested on top of the building.
He noted: “A safe distance on 11Kv feeder stands at 5.5metres while 33kv is 12.5metres and not forgetting tolerance on 132kv lines at 25metres while on .415kv lines go for 1.5metres.”
Onyi expressed dismay that some members of the public have habitually jettisoned the safety rules, and therefore called for concerted effort, in enforcing the safety standards in order to save lives by the relevant authorities.
According to him, PHED has embarked on door-to-door safety awareness campaign on the dangers inherent in trading or living under the high lines especially those found to have contravened the safety standards.
He emphasised that the company would not be held responsible in the event of any electrical accidents under the high tension lines having repeatedly sensitised members of the public.
Youths Want Resumption Of Oil Exploration In Ogoni Root For Belema Oil
Thousands of youths from the four Ogoni local government areas of Khana, Eleme, Gokana and Tai, have staged a peaceful protest in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State seeking the resumption of oil exploration in the area.
The protesting youths, operating under the auspices of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) said the call for the resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni was imperative to promote economic development and create employment opportunities for Ogoni youth.
Addressing a mamoth crowd that gathered at Bori, last Friday, the National President of OYF, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana said Ogoni has continued to suffer denigrating poverty, despite setting the pace for a new environmental consciousness in Nigeria.
He said: “Before the advent of the Ogoni struggle, the Niger Delta was treated like a conquered zone by IOCs and their institutional collaborators who operated on obnoxious policies, but today a new and more intense consciousness on environmental justices has been introduced in the oil rich region”.
He recalled that during the decades of unfettered oil exploration in Ogoni which led to the devastation of the Ogoni environment, the youth were the most affected, as they were completely displaced out of economic activities and made vulnerable to social vices as a result of boredom and inactivity.
Comrade Yaamabana, said that after due consultation, “the apex youth organisation in Ogoni resolved to seek legitimate measures of alleviating their plight and bring lasting solution to the unmitigated poverty in Ogoni land, by calling for the resumption of oil exploration in the area, to avail the youth and other critical stakeholders of Ogoni, the opportunity to benefit from their God-given treasures and resources”.
He called on the Federal Government to issue operational license to Belema oil to commence oil exploration in Ogoni, noting that Belema Oil is an indigenous company that has demonstrated proven records of social engagements, technical capacity and effective host community relations.
The youth president also cautioned against the antics of “inexperienced and portforlio carrying oil firms” who are trying to enter Ogoni land through the back door, pointing out that Ogoni was not a dumping ground for experimentation.
The protesting youth, who carried placards with various inscriptions such as, “We want oil resumption in Ogoni,” “No Belema Oil, no Oil resumption in Ogoni”, among others, called for the allocation of oil blocks to more indigenes in the Niger Delta to develop the embattled oil rich region.
In his remark, the Divisional Police Officer of Khana, SP Bako Angbashim, commended the youth for their peaceful conduct during the protest and assured the support of the police to promote peace in the area.
By: Taneh Beemene
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