The harsh treatment Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) some customers go through daily in the hands of some of the ECG Lost and Control Unit otherwise disconnection officials has come to my notice as work with an ECG customer care service company.
ECG, has a policy that demands that customers who owe a bill as low as ten pesewas, should be disconnected until the customer pays the arrears plus a reconnection fee of eleven Ghana cedis, twenty three pesewas.
According to ECG, when a customer owes them any amount at all the customer is to be disconnected by the revenue officers popularly known as the disconnection guys or team. There have been reports from some customers that when these officials come around for their operations they don't ask them for any documents or even speak with the customers and straight away carry out their missions be it meter reading or disconnection. There are instances where a bill may not have been delivered to a customer on time and before the customer says jack, he/she disconnection without prior notice irrespective of the ECG inability to deliver these bills. I understand, customers can call the ECG helpline for billing enquiries to avoid these challenges too. ECG has no basis for disconnecting customers for the non-delivery failure. It is frustrating, a customer who for some reasons is unable to pay his/her bills on the due date, and struggles to pay the arrears plus the reconnection fee will have to wait to be connected within a 24hour period or over. This policy I believe needs to be revised because if the customer has the means to pay at the time, wouldn't have waited for the disconnection. An alternative approach could be charging the customers an extra fee for delay in payment over particular period of time. For example after every two weeks of delay a customer could be charged say GH5
Also the policy that allows an entire household with different meters or a town to be disconnected directly from the mains pole if most of the people in that jurisdiction owes should critically be relooked at and proper targeting done to apprehend the particular culprit even though I realize the need for tough measures in order to mobilize revenue to keep running the entity that is ECG.
Last but not least illegal connection repercussions can be harsh, in the sense that if a customer in a particular compound house is found tapping from the electricity mains either directly or indirectly, all those in that household even though they have separate meters gets disconnected in effect, making innocent people pay for that individual's crime. I think ECG may have to check this policy too and solely deal with the individual who engages in the illegal connection such that he will bear all the punishment that comes with it and not the other way round. That way people will freely report illegal complaints to ECG.
People are always encouraged to report illegal connections for a 6% of whatever amount that will be recovered from the penalty but when one takes up this call with all the risks that come with it, they barely receive the benefits due them. ECG must honor it words to the populace in order to truly realize the goal of alleviating illegal connections.
BY HENRIETTA OSABUTEY
A STUDENT FROM GIJ