Govts Owe YEDC Over N159.5m In Taraba- Rufus | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Govts Owe YEDC Over N159.5m In Taraba- Rufus

Posted: Jun 1, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Herbert Hanawa Rufus is the Business manager of Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC), Jalingo Business Unit. He spoke to Janet Audu on o the operations of the organisation, especially in the areas of debts owned by electricity consumers, the billing system and efforts to recover such debts. Excerpts.



How much is the indebtedness of electricity consumers to Yola Electricity Distributing Company at present?

From November 2013 to March 2015, the indebtedness of Taraba State government to YEDC as at March 2015 is N41 million; these are bills from the months of January, February and March 2015.

Are you also being owed to by federal parastatals, if yes how much is evolved?

The federal parastatals in the state are also owing; their debt is up to N118.4 million. So the total debt of both Taraba State government and federal parastatals is N159.5.

What measures have you taken to ensure that these debts are paid?

Of recent, we had to write an appeal letter to the various parastatals; we started however, with the Nigeria Police, we gave the notice and breakdown of the debts and appealed that they should come and clear them, before a specific time, after which we are going to use disconnection as the next method. So we are discussing with them for now, and they gave us next week, similarly we are also in touch with the state government. We were together with the acting Governor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, the senators-elect and we presented our case and he also made a promise that the debt would be liquidated.

One source of concern to electricity distribution companies all over the country is vandalism on equipment, which more often is responsible for erratic and epileptic power supply. What is the situation in Taraba State? Is the state also affected by this phenomenon?

In the first quarter of 2014, vandalism was rampant; the second quarter that was the time I was posted to this business unit, we devised a means of controlling vandalism, first of all, we sensitised our customers that they  should take ownership of their transformers, especially  customers who are living close to the transformers and be vigilant over the transformers. Any time they see anybody close to the transformers, they should pick courage, walk down there to inquire if the person is our staff or not; if the person is there illegally then they should hand him over to the security without wasting time. So, we have succeeded in controlling vandalism especially around NTA area.

There is one notorious area called NTA; NTA sub-station was vandalised seven times before I came and when I came, they vandalised it as I assumed office as business manager. “They still vandalised that place three times, but vandalism now has ebbed because our customers are sensitised as they now believed the YEDC equipment is their property,  hence the need to handle it with care. We succeeded also in Kaikama sup-station, the customers there are careful, they monitor it more than ourselves”.

In fact they locked the place so that any time our men went there for work, we collected the key from them and by the time we finished, we handed it over to them. And that has really helped a lot and has curtailed the activities of vandals in the state and in the past one month we have not heard any case of vandalism.

Consumers are complaining of over-billing, even if they did not consume power they are usually confronted with huge bill, what do you have to say?

The issue of billing, Y.E.D.C has what is called billing methodology, the grid energy we receive, we account for it at the end of the business day. Every month, we have a meter that measures the energy that enters the business unit in the state. For instance, in the month of April we consumed 3,255 megawatts of electricity in Jalingo business unit, so we billed our customers based on the energy we received.

“There is no arbitrary billing as alleged by our consumers. So, even those customers that are complaining, is  just matter of understanding they need to be communicated to properly to understand the billing system so that they will not assume that they are been billed arbitrarily. For instance, we have total grid energy of 1000 watts, and the methodology said that we should forfeit the 18 per cent of that energy as commercial lost and we should also forfeit 10 per cent of that energy as technical loss, the remaining per cent will be shared among the customers which is 72 per cent that is left. We then bill them according to their actual consumption, we do the meter reading of all our customers, we also calculate how much energy was purchased by customers that have pre-paid meters, So that one will be deducted from the energy that is left, the remainder of that energy is shared equally among the consumers that have no meters, each customers of that category has his or her own tariff. So the customers are billed according to their own tariff, we have tariff and each tariff has what is called fix charges and energy charges.

We also bill according to what (NEC) Nigeria Electricity Commission directed. We have never billed any customer arbitrarily; we have never gone outside the laid down policy, and despite our communication to them through the media, it appears that some of them are not well sensitised in that aspect; our billing is correct and moderate.

Some officials of Y.E.D.C were accused of conniving with vandals to vandalise electricity distribution equipment, have you ever had such experience in Taraba?

No, I am hearing that for the first term, I want to assure you that Y.E.D.C has zero tolerance in terms of corruption and indiscipline. Any staff of Y.E.D.C that is found with a questionable character will have his/her job terminated or dismissed depending on the case. What is really happening now is that about 70% our staff were laid-off during the unbundling exercise of the the Power Holding Companies of Nigeria (PHCN). Its only about 30% that is  remaining, some of those laid off are still parading themselves as our staff, but the truth is that they are no more our staff and the only way to identify them is through their I.D card. Our I.D card has the logo of Y.E.D.C and has orange colour; so any I.D card that is not orange in colour is not our staff, any other I.D aside from this should not be considered. So as far as I am concerned, no staff of Y.E.D.C can convinive with vandals to vandalise our equipment. I don’t believe that our staff can do such a thing, in Y.E.D.C because integrity is our watchword, no matter how highly placed you are, if you have a questionable character, you will never go score-free.

Our staff are well disciplined, because if you are found wanting in the course of your duty, you will be definitely lay-off either now or latter because integrity is one of our core values and we hold on that seriously, so I can say that that none-of our staff can connived with customers in terms of vandalism, above all I have not heard of that since I assumed office as the business manager.

Another problem that Y.E.D.C has to contend with is the issue of non-officials involving in illegal connection and re-connection of electricity, what is your comment in this regard?

That is a similar thing with the vandalism, illegal connections and illegal re-connections mostly are done by non-staff, and they are not done by our staff. We have  in the past heard so many cases, when we investigate such cases we found out that they were done by none of our  staff that are involve in such illegal act. Any time we discover our staff like that, that person will not be spared because we will not  protect such a staff but he will face dismissal, there were instances where some of our boys were dismissed having been found guilty.  For instance, in Yola, one of our staff was dismissed because of that, in fact, for us to survive and make profit as a business entity we have to ensure that our deals are clean and not questionable. So we don’t have staff like that and if there is any, once he is caught he must be brought to book.

At the beginning of the rainy season, rainstorm caused havoc in many states, what is the situation in Taraba?

The situation in Taraba State is not as bad as in those states that are nearer to the Sahara. The first rainstorm we had here, we had casualties actually, it was a natural disaster where we lost about nine poles and then five poles in another place and by the grace of God, we were able to replace the poles and have restored supply in those areas.

Power outrage in the country seems to have increased, what is really the problem?

Nigeria, a country with over 160 million people, is a country whose demand level of electricity is high. I want to tell you that what is really happening is that the energy being generated by our generation companies is nothing to write home about.

We are supposed to generate more than 44,000 megawatts to meet up with demand of Nigerians, but our demand is less than 4,000Megawatts, since the federal government unbundled PHCN into successor companies; and the companies have up to 11 distribution companies and then one Transmission Company.

Our demand level is 20,000 megawatts and what we are generating is about 4,000 megawatts and even the 4,000 megawatts we are generating have challenges of vandalism.

Your staff has suffered intimidation, harassment by customers particularly in the area of disconnection and power outage. What message do you have for both your staff and the customers in this regard?

My message to my staff is that they should be customer friendly and they should also have good public relations; they should communicate to their customers in such a way that they will understand and do what they are supposed to do promptly. Whatever information the customer desired or deserved, they should communicate to them.

There is this school of thought, which posits that Y.E.D.C has more challenges when there are outages of power supply. How true is this assertion?

That is a true statement. We are into a business of electricity and there is high correlation between electricity supply and cash collection because the more electricity you give, the more collection you will get the graph is a straight line graph. In other words, the more supply we give, the more satisfaction you give to your customers and make them happy, and they in turn pay their bill promptly without anybody reminding them. On the other way round, any time there is no supply, it really upset us as a business unit

What are your plans for electricity consumers in the state?

We have the following plans; we intend to construct a relief sub-station at Sabongari Jalingo. Sabongari is experiencing low voltage due to fast development, and in Y.E.D.C, we have a 500 K.V.A transformer in our store that we intend to install at a relief sub-station.Our limitations are that we need underground materials to make that possible.

The second one is constructing another relief sub-station at the market area, because currently the area is experiencing low voltage due to over-loading.  We have 11/415 KV transformer we intend to install in the market area, but our limitation still is underground materials.

We equality intend to construct a sub-station at Mayo-dasa because the community  have low voltage due to transformer failure that made Y.E.D.C  to transfer customer to a neighboring distribution sub-station that has 300 K.V.A transformer.

We also intend to construct a relief sub- station at mechanic village.  We need  133k.v.a/415 transformer and underground materials as the lines there have been over stretched due to expansion;  construct a relief sub-station at  mile-six  with 500 K.V.A transformer because  currently at mile six low voltage is been experienced due to development.

We need 500 kva and It should be 33/415 transformer, also at lanikaviri, its our plan to construct a relief sub-station as they need 500 KVA transformer  and underground materials there.

What is the relationship of your office and the state government?

Very cordial, I can say that our relationship is cordial, and the state government has been  cooperating with us in terms of settling  the bills even though with difficulties,