* Works on Rumuelimin project to add 60mw power supply to PH
By Codratus Godson
Those who have been stealing energy in Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom may soon face fierce action. This is because the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) is set to take the war to them. They are said to steal between N2.5Bn and N3Bn every month.
The new managing director, Dr Henry Ajagbawa, told newsmen on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, that all distribution companies face the crisis of energy theft but said the case in the Niger Delta was differently high.
He said the company has perfected plans to take the fight to the thieves by launching arrests, investigations, prosecutions, and other drastic measures though he said the company was not planning to break laws.
He mentioned the various methods of theft as meter bypass, tampering and vandalism. He said it is shocking that somebody would bypass a meter and when caught and arrested, would find his way back and start again.
He gave the example of Woji with 95 per cent metering yet almost every one there is by-passing or tampering wth the meters. He said whereas it takes huge sums to do metering, the areas metered keep returning huge losses to the company. “We collect N50 for every N1 power we send to Woji,” he lamented.
This is as he said the PHED has a duty to pay the suppliers of power on the value chain. He said he acquires about N4.5Bn power but collects less than N2.5Bn back, always posting huge losses. This he said affects investments.
The matter is said to be so serious that the topmost executives of the company were not yet paid April 2020 salaries to enable the company pay all others and support the power project in Rumuolumini.
The task forces would swoop on all areas to fish out the criminals tampering with meters and stealing electricity, he emphasized. He also talked about aggressive metering scheme that would be step by step.
He raised hopes, saying the company was bent on boosting supply in the mandate areas of Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River. He mentioned a 60mw project at Rumuolumini to Rumuosi sub station that would boot power by at least 48 mw to Port Harcourt.
He said he was executing the project through direct labour because of the huge costs involved in contract system. He also explained restructuring efforts going on in the company to meet the demands of the customers saying the zone has been divided into 64 feeders with 64 feeder managers.
Dr Ajagbawa said he was working perfectly well with the four states with the zeal to boost power supply the zone. He said there was never a plan to sack workers but insisted that those found guilty by a disciplinary committee must face sanctions and have right to go to court.