Energy Theft: Port Harcourt DisCo loses N2.5bn revenue to meter bypass, vandalism

* Challenges affecting operations, quality services to power consumers ─PHED MD Henry Ajagbawa

* Plans to commence mass disconnection, arrest of debtor residents soon

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) says it is losing about N2.5 billion monthly due to meter bypass and activities of vandals in its four states of jurisdiction.

The PHED states of operations are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers.

Dr. Henry Ajagbawa, Managing Director of PHED, disclosed this to media professionals in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, Tuesday, June 2 while making clarifications on the alleged sack of 120 workers in the company, sources said.

According to Dr. Ajagbawa, the revenue loss affects the company’s efforts to expand its facilities in the four states it operates.

The PHED Managing Director said: “We urge customers to be fair to us and stop tampering with our meters as it is called energy theft.

“PHED is losing about N2.5 billion out of N4.5 billion monthly projection to meter bypass and activities of vandals. These challenges are affecting our operations.

“The only way we can survive and improve on our services is when customers pay their bills and stop bypassing their meter.”

According to him, the electricity distribution company would soon commence mass disconnection and arrest of residents to recover the lost revenue.

Ajagbawa said that in spite of massive metering of homes in the four states, the company’s revenue portfolio had yet to improve.

He urged the National Assembly (NASS) to propose and pass a bill that would criminalise and punish offenders caught in the act.

The PHED Chief stated: “So, we need legislation to criminalise energy theft and vandalism of electricity facilities. People should learn to pay for the energy consumed.

“If the government criminalises this practice and makes the consequences severe, definitely, we will have it better in the country.

“To this end, we have disciplined our staff who were involved in these corrupt acts. We are taking drastic steps to stop corruption among the staff and customers,” he added.

Ajagbawa disclosed that the company needed about N40 billion to meter consumers in the four states it covered.

He, however, insisted that PHED did not retrench 120 workers, an allegation made by the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC).

“Also, I want to use this medium to say that I am in a good working relationship with the Rivers Government in spite of my arrest (by state government task force during the COVID-19 lockdown), he clarified.

“PHED commends the Rivers Government for its construction of some electricity distribution centres aimed at boosting electricity supply in the state,” said Dr. Ajagbawa.

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