Electricity debt of Bayelsa remains N16.6bn, PHED insists


By Gladys Nweke

The face-off between the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) and the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) over power supply in Bayelsa State rages on, the Disco has insisted that the debt profile of Yenagoa as at December 2019, stands at N16.6Bn.

Recall that since December 23, 2019 members of IYC had barricaded PHED offices in Yenagoa resulting into total blackout in the Bayelsa State capital till date.

IYC Chairman, Central Zone, Mr. Kennedy Olorogun, had said it was untrue that Bayelsa State was owing PHED debt of N16.5 billion, challenging the power distribution company to prove how it came about the figure.

But the management of PHED has said that the electricity debt profile of customers in Yenagoa is not a fluke, insisting that the debt was posing a serious threat to its sustainability.

PHED Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr John Onyi, said PHED inherited N5.9Bn from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, while the balance of N10.6Bn was from November 1, 2013 till December 2019.

Onyi said with customers’ population of 21,453 in Yenagoa, the average electricity monthly billing in is N159.2m, regretting that PHED receives only an average payment of N27.5m.

It was not a fluke when Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, said that the outstanding electricity debt of customers in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital was posing a serious threat to its sustainability.

An updated record, as at December 2019 now stands at N16.6Bn. A breakdown of the figure showed that PHED inherited N5.(Bn from the defunct PHCN on 31st October 2013, while the balance of N10.6Bn was from November 1, 2013 till December 2019.

Further analysis showed that residential customers-R2 had N13.4Bn; State Ministries, Department and Agencies in Yenagoa had N2.5Bn while Federal MDAs has an outstanding of N91.5m, leaving the balance of N779.2m and N102.9m to private maximum demand and commercial maximum demand customers.

It is also noteworthy to mention that the average electricity monthly billing in Yenagoa based on the allocation from the national grid clocks around N159.2m out of which PHED receives an average payment of N27.5m with a customer population of 21,453.

It is unbelievable that only 3,555 customers representing 17percent are the ones paying their electricity bill on monthly basis out of the said population of 21,453.

From the above figures, it is very pertinent to state unequivocally that the payment pattern of customers in Yenagoa has left so much to be desired and, one begins to wonder how PHED and indeed the power sector would survive, in the midst of the skyrocketing debt and hostilities.

Onyi who regretted that economic activities in Bayelsa State have been paralyzed, due to the actions of IYC, said it was imperative to make public that the demand and consumption of electricity has a cost element.

PHED completely distances itself from any economic dislocation inflicted on its valued customers in Yenagoa, arising from the unlawful action of the IYC to keep the state in total darkness, but deems it appropriate to set the record straight.

We therefore, call on all relevant authorities such as security agencies, government functionaries to prevail on the IYC to vacate PHED offices to enable us serve our esteemed customers satisfactorily.