Wasteful ECG Embarks On Wild Goose Chase
The Managing Director (MD) of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Samuel Dubik Masubir Mahama, has shockingly disclosed that the company has only 800 officials reading over 2.5 million postpaid meters, covering all the regions it supplies power to.
Even though the number has been viewed as woefully inadequate and unacceptable, the MD, who was appointed last year, says much has not been done under the circumstances because the resources to hire more hands are unavailable.
The company, he said, is also unable to increase the number of these meter readers to an appreciable level, because it does not want to overburden the government.
This shocking revelation, which has since left many scandalized, perhaps exposed the inefficiencies of the company, as well as those at the helm of affairs, on why they could not recover about GH₵5.7 billion debt, owed the company all these years, but go out to lament over revenue shortfalls.
“ECG has 2.5 million postpaid customers and 800meter readers. So, clearly you know that the business model is what is wrong. Where do you pay them from? It has to be at the cost to the state. There should be a balancing act. Don’t get me wrong, postpaid systems are not bad if you have the right processes of reading them and making sure that the bills are churned out constantly and the people follow up to pay, believe you me, it is a good system to have,” the MD said.
Mr. Mahama, who said this during an in-studio interview on Accra-based Joy FM’s morning show on Monday, March 20, 2023 and monitored by The Anchor said, this and other reasons, is pushing the company, to embark on its recently announced massive revenue mobilization exercise.
Many have wondered how a paltry 800 officers would effectively read about over2.5million postpaid meters and mobilize enough revenues for ECG.
Some have pointed to this as one of the reasons why the company has been inefficient for years and always relying on tariff increments to stay in business.
Recall that ECG and the Ghana Water Company have been arguing strongly for huge tariff increments from the Public Utility Regulation Commission (PURC).
The regulator, in August 2022, approved a 27.15 percent increase in electricity, while, in January 2023, some 29.96 percent adjustment for the first quarter was granted, which took effect in February.
According to the company, the latest action is aimed at recovering the over GH₵5.7 billion debt owed the company, equivalent to some $500million.
He said the debt had piled up due to “a few challenges in the system” but now, it is set and committed to the cause and will do its best to cover everything.
The huge debt amount, which the ECG is hoping to recover 100 percent, according to the MD, is owed largely by private companies and some residential customers.
“A chunk of it is in Ghanaian industries (private) and the other side is in residential,” he noted, adding that,in the past, state agencies had come under fire for not settling their electricity debts.
This at times, he explained, even led to the power distributor embarking on mass disconnections exercise at these government institutions.
Asked whether or not the status quo has remained, Mr. Mahama rather surprisingly praised the institutions and agencies, saying “I must say that this time round state agencies have been very good, with the exception of a few, and those few when we get to the bridge, because they will be seeing us but most have been on top of their game.”
Mr. Mahama said as part of the measures to rake in the necessary revenue, staff of ECG who, hitherto, are stationed only at their offices have been dispatched to the field to assist in the mobilization drive.
Using himself as an example, Mr. Mahama said he has joined in the move going on the field to read meters and so on.
“But the point now is, to be able to make the system efficient what do you do? You need money to invest. So that is where we are now as a company, we feel no this cannot go on any longer. Administrative staff that are in the office, you know what, let us join all the districts.
“Me, for one, sometimes, when I go to work, before you sit down and go through paperwork, the number of people that come in and out sometimes before it is 11 o’clock you might have seen over 20 people, so now we are all out. Today, I am doing media, the second half of the day, I am out there with the teams,” he added.
While calling for attitudinal change, the MD said ECG can only offer quality service to its customers after it has been able to invest more, because, in his view, the problems “are solvable.”
Mr. Mahama urged postpaid customers not to pile up bills simply because officials of ECG do not come to their houses to read their meters to bill them.
He suggested that, instead of waiting to be billed, customers should make sure that instances where meter readers fail to show up, they should be good citizens and continue paying using their old bill until such a time that reconciliation is made by the company.
“You have received a bill before; if we haven’t read your meter you are enshrined to pay what your last bill was. Keep paying it, it’s even good for you. Keep paying it until finally your meter is read and there is reconciliation and then you start paying from there,” he said.
The MD also rejected the argument that part of the problems of the company is caused by internal saboteurs. According to him, the staff cannot be blamed entirely because they do not have all the resources.
“In fairness, I will choose not to blame the ECG staff because if you have everything you need to do your job nobody will look at you as not being efficient. The question we need to ask is does ECG staff have everything we need to carry out their duties? It is very easy to point accusing fingers at someone,” he said.
More To Come…