Customers appeal to utilities service providers … to address challenges

Customers of utilities yesterday asked service providers to improve on service delivery, and address challenges before proposing increased tariffs.

This comes on the back of the proposed tariff increase by utilities service providers, between 37 per cent and 334 per cent for this year.

The utilities service providers are the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo).

Consumers made the call at the public hearing for the multi-year major tariff review (2022-2027), organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC).

The GWCL leads in the tariff proposal with 334 per cent increase for 2022, then ECG and NEDCo with tariff proposals of 148 percent and 113 percent respectively.The GRIDCo projected 48 percent rise for the year while the VRAproposed37 percent increment.

The utilities service providers also asked the PURC for reactive power compensation tariff. However, consumers lamented the poor customer and delivery servicesas well as exacerbated bills.

Stella AfuaAdu, Regional Organiser, National Hairdressers and Beauticians Association, said she was indebted (GH¢16,000) to ECG because of “alleged illegal connection.”

She noted that she commenced payment of the debt, but she was denied power by ECG with the excuse that she owes.

Ms Adu claimed that further investigations into the issue showed that recipients of her payments (monies)kept part of the money, and asked the ECG to focus and resolve such inefficiencies.

Mr Abraham AyimEklement, Regional Training Coordinator, Ghana Corporative Fashion Designers Association, stated that the projected tariffs were high and appealed to PURC to consider consumer complaints before approving the proposals.

Another consumer, Elizabeth Tagoe,said that the service providers were not meeting the efficiency benchmark to warrant the percentages being demanded.

Meanwhile, taking turns to justify their proposals and answer consumers’ complaints, the utilities service providers implored the PURC and consumers to consider and approve the proposed tariffs, to ensure sustainability of services.

They said their proposals were to enable them recoup their investment, expand and complete projects as well as provide quality services to customers.

The utility service providers noted that the proposed increment in tariffs was due to the increase in operational cost, exchange rate, cedi depreciation and inflation.

Dr Ishmael Ackah, Executive Secretary of the PURC, said the commission had a mandate of ‘balancing interests’, and would be fair to both consumers and the utilities.

He saidthis year’s tariff review was to ensure that the utilities were viable and efficient and ensure that consumers really enjoyed what they paid for.

Dr Ackahsaid it was for this reason the regulator invited the public to make contributions for a consented tariff for the year.

Mr Patrick Nyarko, Acting Chairman, Research and Stakeholder Management Committee, PURC,said the public hearing was to avoid a situation of purported or imposed figures, for which it wanted all to get involved in the process.

BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR

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