Whence the Power for Sustainable Economic Growth?
For a while now, maybe two or three months, our national experiment at privatizing the power sector has become more ambiguous in nature than it was when at the planning stage. This is contrary to logic. We ought to understand better the fine details of a privatized power sector now that we have seen few months of privatized power at work.
What I see out there in the street is confusion and disillusion. The ordinary folk on the street had been told that privatization will bring an era of efficiency and sustained steady power supply. But at best, have witnessed a few months of unexplainable high tariffs and frivolous bills covering a period with the worst power supply ever.
Now I want to bring issues to point. I spoke to 25 residents of Ilorin spread across the city on the bills sent to electricity consumers and they all had similar comments to make. First is that, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company ought to start on a clean note. “ If the owners of the new company want our acceptance, they can do better than sending bills followed with instant disconnection by some field workers who need to be trained in customer relations skills” I quote here my decade long friend who is a barrister at law. And they also ought to recognize our consumer rights, you know, it is completely unacceptable to bring estimated bills for periods of blackouts. Amongst other issues, this seems to be at the core of the grievances of all the 25 folks interviewed.
Here comes the big bang. An electricity consumers’ forum is in the offing with the likely possibility of becoming a strong pressure group which will stand the ground until the new companies do right by us. Look out for details here and enquiries about the electricity consumers’ forum will be directed to the conveners. I am giving the forum all my support because I feel now is the time to shape the future of electricity supplier and consumer interface.
The more consumers can support the forum, the more we can get the companies to respect our consumer rights and the less will be the issue of bill irregularities.
I sought to know more about this forum, and you know I have come to believe it is a development we need to give applause. Malam Abu, the fiery brand activist convener replied to my question; “we are with this forum trying to contribute to building a system where the commonest aspiration of both supplier and consumer for sustained power supply is achieved without the trampling of rights.”
He obviously agrees that for peace to reign, we must ensure justice is done to all parties. Now let us make it clear to the bad elements in our midst, this definitely is not an era for illegal hook up to power grids. The forum conveners have reiterated to me their readiness to sensitize consumers on the need to do right by the companies as well. So that is one proposal in the right direction. Hmm, action this time must be equal and opposite of reaction.
Where then, lie the resolution of the issues arising from the irregularly outrageous bills sent out to our homes and business offices recently?
I think the company management has more to benefit in terms of public goodwill by starting all their customers on a clean slate. Oh, was it not a news item last few weeks that federal authorities are considering writing off liabilities inherited from the moribund PHCN by the new private owners? This purported action of the federal government is from our common wealth and the new owners should, in my “pseudo-socialist” opinion, extend similar gesture to the already overburdened citizenry. Should I have said “pseudo-capitalist”?
Before I rest this case, come on, Ilorin electricity consumer’s forum is here! Let’s come together to do it. If we don’t do it, who will?
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »