By Ike Uchechukwu
The Management of Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED on Monday debunked allegations by Cross River Water Board, CRSWB, that it was supplying epileptic power in Calabar occasioning the water Corporation to spend 150 million naira on diesel monthly.
PHED stated that that the disconnection of Cross River water Board, CRSWB, power supply was because it has an outstanding debt of 177 million naira till date as well as involved in an illicit practice of ” meter bypass”.
Recall that the Management of CRSWB had earlier disclosed that it spends 150million naira monthly on diesel due to epileptic power supply by PHED.
In a statement signed by Manager, Corporate Communications PHED,Mr John Onyi on Monday and made available to Vanguard stated that CRWB has an outstanding debt of N177, 730,978.52 as at date.
Onyi stated: “The management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution has never engaged its customers in its franchise area (Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers) in a media war not to mention government agencies considering the level of patronage it has enjoyed and still enjoying from the governments of the four states in ensuring that power supply is sustained for the good people of the states.
“However, it is important that we place the facts as they are before the reading public and indeed the Government of Cross River State. The Cross River State Water Board Ltd, Calabar located at Miriam Road feeds from our Water Board feeder.
“Also, the area before now receives a minimum of 20 hours of supply per day. With the introduction of the recently reviewed tariff, they are in the Band A category. Since inception of PHED, the Board has been a maximum demand customer and as such on premium service.
“However, It has an outstanding debt of N177, 730,978.52 as at date. On 24th January 2020, the agency was disconnected for non-adherence to payment plan as agreed in series of meetings held with its management.
“The above action attracted media outrage orchestrated by the agency aimed at incurring public sympathy, hence a meeting was held arising from its outcry and a temporary reconnection was effected thereafter.
“During a routine check on 13th May 2020, the Water Board main station in Calabar was caught on meter bypass; a diversion of load from the meter which is inimical to the survival of electricity in Nigeria. Subsequently, a penalty fee for the loss of revenue was presented to the agency with a payment plan.
“For the umpteenth time, the Water Board reneged on the payment plan despite repeated calls and visitations leading to its disconnection on 21st August 2020.
“PHED therefore, cannot fathom the reason for refusing a payment plan to defray their outstanding N177million debt owed us yet spending above N150million as claimed by the Board on diesel. A plan that will not only ease their cash flow but also present an opportunity to enjoy long hours of power availability on the said Feeder.
“PHED therefore, cannot sacrifice due process in a manner that will lower its standards of delivering safe and reliable electricity in the region where it operates. PHED will continue to engage its stakeholders for mutual benefits.
“Also, it is worthy to mention that for PHED and indeed other players in electricity industry to survive, payment of bill must remain non-negotiable,” Onyi stated.