The Electricity Company of Ghana, ECG, has hinted that it is lobbying parliament to pass a law that will criminalise nonpayment of electricity bills.
Ghana has about 85% electricity penetration rate but the nonpayment of electricity bills by consumers continue to suffocate the power distributor hence the move to pass a law to make nonpayment of electricity bills illegal and liable for prosecution.
As it stands now, ECG has no law backing it to prosecute consumers who fail to pay bills therefore the extreme action the company could apply is to disconnect power to the consumer. But, this method has not been very effective over the years for the company to recoup its debts.
At the annual media encounter in Koforidua Instituted by ECG, the Eastern Regional Manager of ECG, Ing Michael Baah explained that the majority of electricity consumers are on credit meters. According to him, “Prepaid is quite expensive. If you send prepaid to our rural areas, there is no way you can recoup the capital”.
He added that “So we are now lobbying Parliament to pass a Law, making nonpayment of electricity a crime as it’s happening in Francophone countries. In Ivory Coast, you dare not renege on your responsibility to pay bills. if you do that they will arrest you. When you go to Togo the same thing, if you don’t pay electricity they will arrest and you will pay penalty and interest. We are lobbying parliament to pass a similar law”.
Ing. Micheal Baah bemoaned that, the company is unable to break even due to nonpayment of power consumed making it difficult to have strong financial muscles to operate with optimum efficiency. He said the overall effect is that the government has to continuously invest huge sums of money in the company which could have been used in other sectors.
He, therefore, appealed to the media to partner ECG to educate the public on the need to pay their bills on time.
Influx of “Political Meters” during an election year
Responding to question posed by EIB-Network’s Eastern Regional Correspondent, Kojo Ansah who sought to find out measures adopted by the company to prevent the influx of illegal meters during this election year, the Public Relations Officer of ECG-Eastern Region, Mary Eshun-Oppong, said the company has detected some of these meters in circulation in parts of the region but said management has engaged the political leaders in the region on the need to acquire meters through ECG for their constituents.
She said, the illegal meters cause revenue losses to the company
A total amount of GHC949,000.00 was retrieved from 1,196,681kwh power stolen through illegal connections in the Region in 2019.
The amount represents penalties and surcharges slapped on customers who were caught using electricity illegally.
The practice is prevalent among Hotel Operators, restaurant owners, cold store operators, drinking pubs owners, individuals, and some Media houses.
The types of illegal connections detected included; Meter tampering, Meter By-pass, illegal self-reconnection and illegal direct connection.
4,014 meters were detected to be illegally connected out of which 16 were unauthorised service connection, two illegal direct connection, 29 meters tampered, 176 faulty meters and 111 meters on wrong tariff class.
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