On Tuesday, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) ordered the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to pay compensation to customers across the country affected by the failure of its prepayment system to give them access to power from September to early October, this year.
The Commission has asked ECG to pay lifeline customers GH¢15, residential customers 10 penalty units equivalent to GH¢120; non-residential customers 20 penalty units equivalent to GH¢240; commercial customers 40 penalty units equivalent to GH¢480 and industrial customers 100 penalty units equivalent to GH¢1,200.
The customers to benefit from the compensation are in the Volta Region, Takoradi, Tema, Cape Coast, Kasoa, Winneba, Agona Swedru, Koforidua, Nkawkaw and Tafo among other places.
In a statement copied to Ghanaian Times in Accra on Tuesday, Dr Ishmael Ackah, the Executive Secretary of the PURC, said the ECG would pay the compensation in the form of a one-time electricity credit from last Saturday to Friday, this week, with the compensation clearly indicated on customer receipts.
To assure customers that the PURC meant its words, Dr Ackah said “ECG shall issue widespread notifications to inform customers of the compensation due them and shall maintain accurate records of measures taken to comply with this order.”
He said in addition that the order was issued under the law, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538), to be precise.
However, when the whole nation deduced from the PURC statement that the ECG had already started the payment and was going to end the whole process today, the ECG comes in with information that does not support the impression created.
Responding to the PURC order, the ECG agreed to paying the compensation, but only on case-by-case basis rather than the wholesale compensation payment to all customers as directed by PURC for the recent power crisis.
The ECG added that it was preparing to engage the PURC on the need to alter its directive for the case-by-case option so that customers could be made to prove the damages suffered in relation to the crisis in question.
That way the real victims could be isolated from ‘gate crashers’ or impostors and this is right because it can save ECG wrong or unnecessary expenditure.
The PURC deserves commendation for its swift action in the current power crisis.
If it continues to take such swift moves, the utility companies would also act in like manner and in the end customer satisfaction would reign supreme to forestall agitations of customers.
In the current case, we hope that the PURC and the ECG would quickly come to a compromise so that the matter would put to rest as soon as possible.
To that end, affected ECG customers should exercise the best of restraint for the matter to be resolved amicably.
In the midst of the crisis, the ECG is appealing to its customers to avoid panic buys resulting in long queues and pressure on its prepayment vending system.
What precipitated the panic buy?
The time has come for the ECG to, in addition to its current functions, run its customer service department as an intelligence unit to pick customer information to prevent occurrences that could disturb their system in order to forestall any damaging effects on both customers and the company.