A total of 705 complaints received by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) against utility companies and customers in the Upper East and North East regions in 2022 were amicably resolved, a Complaint Resolution Officer, Abdulai Ikililu, has disclosed.
He said a total of 669 complaints were lodged against the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCO), 30 complaints were lodged against the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), while the remaining six complaints were reported against some customers.
Mr Ikililu disclosed these during a Consumer Service Clinic (CSC) organised by the PURC in Bolgatanga last Tuesday.
The aim of the CSC was to provide a common platform for the consumers, utility service providers and the regulator, to provide guidelines on consumer complaints management and to explain the processes involved.
The event brought together stakeholders including customers from the two regions, who got the opportunity to understand the operations and challenges of the utility companies and to voice out their grievances as well for redress.
He said that in the year under review, the PURC assisted customers to be paid a total of GH¢26,538.23 in terms of adjustments in relation to the payment of wrong bills, as well as supported the utility service providers to recover revenue totalling GH¢332,267.70 from consumers.
He stressed “if some consumers use the utility services and fail to pay what is due to the PURC, our mandate is to intervene and assist the service providers to recover all outstanding payments owed by customers”.
He stated that the PURC facilitated the replacement of 35 damaged electricity poles to help improve electricity supply to consumers and also saw to the injection and replacement of transformers in the two regions.
He entreated consumers to have confidence in the PURC and always lodge complaints against the utility companies to them, for the needed steps to be taken to resolve them, adding “going forward, we would ensure that PURC is closer to the people for our mutual benefit”.
He urged the people to take advantage of the decentralisation of the PURC offices nationwide to lodge complaints and make enquiries about the services provided to them, in order not for them to be shortchanged.
“If customers report poor services rendered to them to the PURC for action to be taken, it will put the utility companies on their toes to improve their services to the consumers,” he said, adding “on the other hand, if consumers have grievances and they do not report them, they will continue to suffer in silence”.
The outgoing Upper East Regional Chief Manager of the GWCL, Seth Eric Atiapah, urged customers to always inform the company of their challenges in order for them to be addressed quickly.
He said “we believe that our consumers are our partners and that we will continue to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with them to improve our operations,” adding “I wish to call on the public to be quick in reporting burst pipes so as to reduce our losses”.
He further expressed concern about the non-payment of bills and illegal connections, which continued to have a negative toll on their operations.
Taking his turn, Eugene Addo, the Upper East Area Manager, VRA/NEDCO, lamented about meter tampering by consumers, especially in the Bawku Municipality, stressing “due to the conflict in the Bawku area, we are unable to clampdown on residents who have tampered with their meters”.
He also said NEDCO was having a huge challenge recovering money owed by the residents in Bawku in the form of bills due to increased insecurity and further cautioned against the burning of refuse around electricity poles, since it had led to the destruction of many poles.
For his part, the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, entreated the utility companies to deal with challenges, especially in the acquisition of meters and other operations, to prevent consumers from resorting to the services of middlemen.
The Paramount Chief of the Sakoti Traditional Area, Naba Sigri Bewong, urged consumers to religiously pay their bills to enable the service providers to serve them properly.