According to them, there is nothing wrong with the new billing software and that it has nothing to do with the current killer bills.
They have therefore given the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) a 7-day ultimatum to withdraw its directive for the use of the software to be suspension or face their wrath.
The PURC recently issued a directive ordering ECG to suspend the implementation of the company’s new billing system until further notice.
The commission said its action had been necessitated by over-billing complaints received from power consumers.
It went on to explain that after thorough investigation into the matter through its monitoring exercise, it came to the conclusion that there was an anomaly in the initial implementation of the new billing software.
However, the ECG staff at a press conference in Accra yesterday, disagreed with the PURC, blaming the high tariff on last year’s 59.2 percent increase in electricity tariff, coupled with the energy sector levy and taxes imposed by the government.
Ato Kwamena Bondzie-Quaye, General Secretary of the Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU) who addressed journalists, said the new billing software works better than the previous one, calling on PURC to reverse its directive.
Workers Live In Danger
He said the directive by the PURC had put the lives of ECG workers in danger, threatening that the frontline staff and field workers would withdraw their services after seven days if PURC failed to withdraw the directive.
Mr Bondzie-Quaye said, “As a result of this directive, workers of ECG have been exposed to several acts of intimidation, abuse, threats and in some instances, physical assaults. The congenial atmosphere required to work is not guaranteed.
“The workers consider this act of PURC as very unfortunate, and by inference, calculated to cause public disaffected towards the company.”
He said the workers had observed that over the years, government had given assurances to pay off its debt to the ECG but not much had been done to actualize these numerous promises.
The government owes the company about GH¢1 billion as at 2014; and it is believed that the debt might have ballooned to GH¢1.5 billion by the close of December 2015.
Mr. Bondzie-Quaye said outstanding debts, coupled with the continuous consumption of power by government ministries, agencies, departments and other institutions, were seriously affecting the revenue generation of the company.
“As a trading concern, the fact that about 40 percent of our monthly billings are constantly not paid by these high consumers is aggravating the financial crisis the company is going through,” he noted.
Mr. Bondzie-Quaye therefore warned all government institutions that owe ECG and those that are not on prepaid meters that their meters would soon be disconnected.
“We are going to embark on a massive disconnection exercise with effect from Thursday, 20thJune, 2016, to retrieve all arrears and ensure that going forward, all such institutions pay for the power they consume every month.
“Any attempt by any authority to frustrate or impede our move to collect the outstanding debts will be fiercely resisted and we will consider such interference as a deliberate act to prevent us from carrying out our legitimate duties as workers,” he stressed.
The staff of ECG also opposed government’s decision to give ECG to a private investor on a concession for a period of 25 years.
“This policy is NOT the best option to bring reforms to make ECG more efficient and profitable. We have already articulated our views and suggestions in our position paper to MiDA and the ministry of power but we are surprised that government has allowed foreign interest to still push it to follow this trajectory, which to all intents and purposes, will inure more to the benefit of the foreign investor,” Mr. Bondzie-Quaye bemoaned.
He said privatizing ECG among other things, will create a virtual private monopoly in the energy distribution sector, which has the potential of creating chaos for the country.
By Cephas Larbi