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General News Fri, 31 May 2019

Don’t pay PDS for the years of 'no billing' - CAC to Yilo Krobo consumers

The Consumer Advocacy Centre (CAC), Ghana is advising the residents of Yilo Krobro in the Eastern Region, against paying electricity bills that had accrued from 2014, as demanded by the Power Distribution Company (PDS).

In a press release, CAC stated the law does not permit the supplier of utilities to charge consumers for electricity or water consumed but not billed for over 12 months’ period.

The Ghanaian law on utilities L.I. 1816 regulation (20) sub-regulation (8) states that “where a supplier fails to bill a customer for a period of twelve (12) months, the supplier cannot recover the cost of that service unless the delay in the billing occurred a. without negligence on the part of the supplier, or b. due to the customer’s actions.”

The above law according to CAC relieves the residents of Yilo Krobo in paying the accrued electricity bills that date back to 2014.

“From the record, there is no evidence that the PDS (Electricity Company of Ghana) were hindered, frustrated or stopped by the consumers from discharging their duties of billing this class of consumers,” the statement read.

The Power Distribution Service last week said it had cleansed its billing system from ¢195,725,500.29 down to ¢84, 625,624.87, leaving the residents with ¢84,625,624.87 to settle after a violent clash ensued between the police and residents over the mass disconnection as a result of the accrued debts.

The residents allegedly blocked the main road in the town to prevent PDS officers who were being escorted by police personnel, to switch off the main transformer that supplies power to the town.

The clash on Wednesday left a 14-year-old boy dead and two others in critical condition.

As a sign of commitment to have power back, the residents are expected to make a payment from Friday. Customers who are unable to pay one off can go to PDS for debt rescheduling plan.

Some of the protesters who were arrested by the police were reportedly forced to lie prostrate.

These were part of the roadmap to peace and PDS reconnecting the Odumase community to the national grid after things came to a head.

At the meeting Friday were officials of the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC); MP for Lower Manya Krobo, Ebenezer Telarbi, Tema Region Managing Director and Staff of PDS.

However, CAC in their statement said since PDS in their deliberations with the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), admitted their internal system failures caused the failure to bill the Yilo Krobo. CAC, therefore, finds the demands on the residents to pay the bills illegal and unacceptable.

CAC is also unhappy with PURC for asking the consumers to pay the bills and the Member of Parliament, Ebenezer Terlabi, who initiated negotiations between PURC and PDS, for not standing his ground for the consumer’s right under this law.

They called on PURC to rule that it is illegal for the PDS to disconnect electricity consumers when the supplier had not satisfied their obligation under the rules and called for a renegotiation of terms.

The statement added, “we hereby call on the PURC to reconvene the meeting of the parties and renegotiate fresh terms of the agreement, having in mind the strict application of L.I. 1816.”

CAC also urged the affected consumers in Yilo Krobo not to pay for the years that PDS refused/failed to bill them for the supplies.

Read full release:

Upon a careful enquiry into the disturbances that occurred at Yilo Krobo areas between consumers of electricity and the Power Distribution Company (PDS), we the Consumer Advocacy Centre (CAC) – Ghana, have found the demands of the electricity supplier as brazenly illegal, unacceptable and very unfortunate.

The Ghanaian law on utilities L.I. 1816 regulation (20) sub-regulation (8) clearly frowns on the posture of the PDS as a supplier that reneged on its billing duties. We hereby wish to bring to the notice of the management of PDS, this particular law, stating: “where a supplier fails to bill a customer for a period of twelve (12) months, the supplier cannot recover the cost of that service, unless the delay in the billing occurred

a. without negligence on the part of the supplier or b. due to the customer’s actions”

From the record, there is no evidence that the PDS (Electricity Company of Ghana) were hindered/frustrated or stopped by the consumers from discharging their duties of billing this class of consumers. The PDS even in their deliberations with the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) have admitted that the failure to bill the Yilo Krobo consumers was as a result of their own internal system failures.

The Consumer Advocacy Center, inspired by L.I. 1816, therefore, asks the affected Yilo Krobo electricity consumers not to pay for the years that PDS refused/failed to bill them for the supplies.

Accordingly, we are disappointed in the PURC for asking the affected consumers to pay for the negligence of the PDS, even in the face of the Electricity Supply and Distribution (Technical and Operational) Rules, 2005 (L.I. 1816). We hereby call on the PURC to uphold the rights of the Ghanaian Consumer as enshrined and safeguarded under this law.

The Consumer Center wishes to remind the Member of Parliament, the Local Assembly, the Assembly Members, the Chiefs and Opinion Leaders in Yilo Krobo area, that the laws of Ghana do not permit the supplier of utilities to charge consumers for electricity or water consumed but not billed for over 12 months period. We are not happy that the Member of Parliament who triggered the negotiation with PURC did not stand his grounds for the consumer’s right under this very law.

We hereby call on the PURC to reconvene the meeting of the parties and renegotiate fresh terms of agreement, having in mind the strict application of L.I. 1816. In furtherance, we invite the PURC to rule that it is illegal for the PDS to disconnect electricity consumers when the supplier has not satisfied their obligation under the rules. The mass disconnection that has taken place in the Yilo Krobo areas is illegal and the PURC must call it as it. The Consumer Advocacy Center will not hesitate to institute a suit in the courts for strict enforcement of L.I. 1816 and bring relief to the consumers of Ghana should the arbitrator fail to deliver justice.

Signed.

BENJAMIN ESSUMAN

DIRECTOR, CORPORATE AFFAIRS

Source: Myjoyonline.com
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