“The massive disconnection of communities because of debt is not only illegal, it is outrageous and an abuse of the people’s right.”
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it is illegal to disconnect a consumer from a power supply source without a 10-day prior notice from the date of bill delivery.
Babatunde Irukera, the FCCPC executive vice-chairman, stated this on Wednesday in Calabar at an electricity consumer complaint resolution platform.
Mr Irukera bemoaned the abysmal service provided by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) in Calabar and its environs.
He said from an investigation by the commission that PHEDC had not fared well in providing services to its consumers commensurate with their bills.
Mr Irukera described as “oppressive” PHEDC’s services to residents of Cross River.
He added that the reports the commission received on many issues included mass disconnection carried out by the company without recourse to the law.
“I want to convey to you the incredible displeasure of the people of Cross River. According to them, especially the governor, if they have their way, they will prefer that PHEDC does not operate in the state,” said the FCCPC boss. “If this is the view about your business, then I don’t think that business will survive.”
He added, “The massive disconnection of communities because of debt is not only illegal, it is outrageous and an abuse of the people’s right. Disconnecting the whole community is oppressive.”
According to Mr Irukera, there are people in the community who are consistent in paying their bills,
“So, it is unjust and unfair to disconnect them.
Any business that cannot satisfy its consumers is preparing to die. Allowing consumers to pay tariffs without commensurate electricity supply is against the law,” he further explained. “The problem of compelling consumers to pay electricity bills is tantamount to oppressing and extorting money illegally from consumers. The internal mechanism for assessing scorecards of electricity companies is not by a collection of tariffs. Rather it is customer satisfaction that matters.”
Mr Irukera also mentioned that DisCos disconnecting the power supply for days and still giving bills covering that same period was “exploitative.” He explained that it was illegal for consumers to buy transformers, and they would later become the property of PHEDC.