The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED has offered explanation why it severed power supply to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, saying the Hospital is owing about N35,367,938.70 from power consumed.
It said the Hospital took steps considered illegal to reconnect itself even as efforts were made to allow its management key into its settlement initiative.
John Onyi Communications Lead,
Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, while providing the explanation, noted that “PHED, does not just disconnect customers for non-payment of bills, it has a process of doing that in line with the directive of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
As a responsive company, the due date of disconnecting customers is imprinted on the bills of customers notifying them of the due date of disconnection which is 15th of every month.
Apart from the above, premium customers such as UCTH are always notified in writing about the company’s intention to carry out disconnection if all attempts through relationship marketing fail”.
He said that each Maximum Demand customer has a specially trained key accounts officer attached to it in order to resolve any billing or technical issue[s] that may arise, and that in the case of UCTH, several visitations were made to their office from May to July 2016 with a view to making them see reasons why the outstanding bills should be paid but the response was not forthcoming, hence the first disconnection on 28th July 2016.
According to him, The disconnection on the said date prompted UCTH to have a meeting with PHED and thereafter, it was reconnected on 2nd August 2016 based on the letter of commitment by the Deputy Chief Medical Director, Dr Joe Udosen, who committed the Teaching hospital to offset the debt using an agreed payment plan.
This eventually, paved way for a meeting also in the office of the Chief Medical Director, Professor Thomas Agan on 16th August, 2016 where PHED formally delivered a letter, titled “Need to settle outstanding PHED energy bill”, amounting to N35,367,938.70 and the need to pay or face disconnection,[Ref;PHED/PaCM/
According to him, the outstanding debt was not a month’s bill as claimed but an accumulated bill arising from irregular paltry payments .
“PHED admits that the teaching hospital had a faulty meter and was billed on estimate based on the approved NERC methodology through load assessment and the perceived over billing by them is as a result of the amount of energy being wheeled to the hospital taking into cognizance its importance in health service delivery. The hospital is on Amika 33kv line which is a priority feeder.
For instance, the hospital consumes an average of 98,766kwh in month on a tariff of N46.73 on A3.
On 4th August 2016 when a functional meter was installed, the bill accrued between that date and 29th August 2016 has risen to N2,955,128.13 based on meter reading.
Therefore, PHED wishes to state categorically that against all odds as being peddled in the media, established consultations with the management of the Teaching Hospital were made and due process was followed by PHED before disconnection was carried out in the second week of September 2016. It was a last resort in recovering the huge debt” he explained.