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Re: PHCN, trailers, torch

By Helen Ovbiagele
For the first time ever on this page, the PHCN is being praised for improved performance by some readers.  My piece was on how PHCN staff went  to an area where there had been no electricity supply for several days, to check their pre-paid meters, receipts, and needed the consumer’s torch to be able to carry out their assignment.

My piece was also on how PHCN transformers are left by the roadside, exposed to vandalism and rampaging trailers and lorries; things which lead to the destruction of transformers and the attendant power blackout.

While some readers agreed with me that many transformers are not placed in safe places, and needed to be protected from their being destroyed, many readers were more concerned about the current supply of electricity.  I was delighted by the news that in some parts of the country, you get days of uninterrupted power supply and at a good level too.  Now, that’s simply great and wonderful.

Still, some complained of having three days on, and one day off  in the supply they get, and a few wonder why the PHCN is dragging its feet about installing pre-paid meters which they feel is best for all concerned, as you cannot be disconnected at the whims and fancies of  PHCN staff for non-payment of bills.  A small number of those who  wrote in feel that there’s no improvement in power supply in the areas where they live.

By and large, I think we must be glad that many people are seeing a positive change in electricity supply and they  were nice enough to say so.  Our media house is obliged to publish this desirable change so that  news about PHCN is not all gloom and there’s hope that those of us who are yet to experience  improved power supply are on the way to doing this, by the grace of God.

How nice it would be to receive positive reports from our readers on the improved state of other areas of our lives in this country – roads, healthcare, education, water supply, security of lives and property, transportation, etc.

We thank all those readers who made time to mail us their views.

“Ma, with regards to your piece on PHCN, this organization should give everyone prepaid meters!  Can a telecoms service provider come to your house to ask you if your recharge card is okay?  If it is, won’t your line be automatically credited?

Pre-paid meters would reduce workers at the PHCN, and  they don’t want that, hence they’re stalling in the installation of these meters.  Also, they want a situation where they can  keep controlling us.”

“Aunty Helen, good day!  The area where I live in Benin city, Edo State, I don’t  have any problem with the PHCN!  We do have at least twenty hours of regular light daily.  From  Celeste, mnse.”

“Madam, thank you  for your interesting article on the PHCN.  You’re lucky that you had the ear of the organization’s staff that called at your place.  My experience is that they don’t have much time for the consumer’s complaints.

When one goes to report that there had been no electricity supply for several days, they look annoyed, as if you’re disturbing their peace.  They won’t tell you why you have no light, neither can they tell you when things will improve or be rectified.

It’s time that staff of the PHCN learn that they’re public  servants and that they should treat us with some respect.  The telephone boys used to be that arrogant until the gsm phones came in to rescue us from their arrogance.  Oh, for a body  that would come rescue us from the PHCN.  It will happen, I’m sure.  Thanks, ma.  –  Avery,  Mushin. Lagos.”

“Helen, I’m glad to report that we have electricity supply every day now for the past several weeks and we’ve been taken off the ”days off, days on” list.  This is quite a relief to those of us who are self-employed in this area of Delta State, and for whom running a generating set is quite costly.

One just hopes that the situation will remain like this for always.   The media has helped enormously in creating an awareness of the epileptic power supply in this country.  Well done to you and your other colleagues in other media houses.  –  Amos, Sapele.”

“Madam, your article made interesting reading.  All the same, I must confess that we’re getting steady electricity supply down my end in Port Harcourt these days, although the quality is a bit poor.  Still, it’s a relief to wake up and go to bed, still having electricity.  –  Fred, Port Harcourt.”

“Mrs. Ovbiagele, my complaint is about the cost of replacing a pre-paid card.  I went to recharge my prepaid meter card as usual, but after loading  it into the meter, the two lights which normally come on when the account has run out, were still blinking.

That meant that the card wasn’t charging the meter and so, where was the five thousand naira power supply that I just bought?  I raced back to the PHCN office and the cashier checked.  She told me my money was intact, but that the card which came with the meter some years ago, which I have been using  was bad, and I would need to replace it with the latest type.

How much was this?  Six thousand naira for the white plastic card!  So much!  I  told her I didn’t pay that much for  the meter  to be  installed several years ago.  ‘Yes, that original card was complimentary,’ she told me.  “Now you have to pay for this one’.

I asked her why she didn’t detect the fault when she was processing my old card.  She said  it is impossible to know, except when a consumer comes to complain that he could load what he had bought.  I find that ridiculous!

A plastic recharge card for six thousand naira?  It seemed a rip-off to me, but I had no choice but to buy it.  Otherwise, my meter would not be recharged and there would be a blackout.  What’s more, there was no receipt for the card.  She said having the card was proof that I paid for it!  Six thousand naira?  The PHCN  should stop ripping consumers off.  –  Tunde, Isola, Lagos.”

“Good day, aunty H!  Nice piece on the PHCN,  trailers and a torch!  Your case is better than mine o!  I live in Abuja.  Our transformer got bad due to a heavy downpour.  We’ve been without PHCN electricity for over one month and to add insult upon injury, the PHCN gave us a bill of N6,000, which was the same as the previous month when we had light.  This is bad.”

“Let’s say that the PHCN has woken up from its great slumber at last and hopefully, the current situation in my area of  having  electricity supply  every day for many hours will hold, and our previous frustration and suffering all these years will be a thing of the past.

I know that there are still some parts of the country where electricity is still a scarce commodity, but let’s have hope that they too will soon join in the bonanza of steady and improved quality electricity.   My gratitude to all those who made it possible; whoever  and wherever they may be.  It’s a nice experience not  to go battling with the gen set every blessed day; not to mention the cost of  buying diesel and the pollution from the fumes.”


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