The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) embarked on a visit to the regional offices of the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) and the Ghana Water Limited (GWL) in the Northern Region on Thursday, October 26, 2023. This is part of a nationwide stakeholder engagement being undertaken to visit and engage with the utilities and to discuss their operations, performance, challenges, and initiatives to improve the provision of services to customers and consumers at large.
The PURC team, led by its Executive Secretary, Dr. Ishmael Ackah indicated that the Commission is committed to regularly engaging the Utility Service Providers to discuss issues that are pertinent to the electricity and water sectors, and to strengthen collaborations between the Commission and Service Providers. He indicated that, as part of its operational efficiency for 2023, the Commission is focused on three key areas of Education, Engagement, and Enforcement (3Es).
The Area Manager for NEDCo in Tamale, Ing. Elvis Amoako Denuyakor, made a presentation to the PURC Team, highlighting their operations, achievements, and challenges they encounter in providing reliable services to consumers in the region. The challenges highlighted by the Utility Service Providers include illegal connections, meter theft, destruction of service infrastructure, customers’ failure to pay utility bills, poor voltage levels within the eastern corridor network, interference of traditional and political leaders, and inadequate Ghana Grid Company’s (GRIDCo) Bulk Supply Points (BSP). Ing. Denuyakor was grateful to the Commission for assisting NEDCo to recover from customers approximately GHS 2.1 million over a period of 6 months.
Dr. Ackah advised NEDCo to implement measures, which will enable them reduce their losses in line with the PURC benchmarks and to intensify their efforts in metering customers and issuing utility bills on a regular basis to help improve revenue collection. Dr. Ackah indicated that, NEDCo should ensure that, vending centers and payment platforms are operational and available to consumers for ease of accessibility to their services.
In the area of customer engagement and education, Dr. Ackah entreated the NEDCo team to increase their communication channels with customers. He noted that, this will help to foster good relationships between the Service Providers and consumers.
Ing. Stephen Amehire-Mensah, the Regional Chief Manager of Ghana Water Limited, made a presentation to the PURC Team, highlighting their operations, achievements, and challenges they encounter in providing reliable services to consumers in the Northern region. Among some of the challenges, are sand-winning activities, interference by traditional leaders, and burst pipes by road contractors.
Ing. Amihere-Mensah praised the PURC and its regional office in the Northern Region for the collaborative efforts between GWL, PURC, and the Ghana Police in recovering surcharges. Some of the offenses he noted were, meter by-passing, illegal connections, self-reconnection, and meter tampering. He noted that, out of a total amount of Ghs167,920.88 GWL, an amount of Ghs51,664.00 has so far been recovered.
Ms. Maame Esi Eshun gave a summary of the 2021 performance of each NEDCo and GWL regional office visited, highlighting key performance indicators analyzed in the Ghana Utility Performance Index (GUPI), which was published by the Commission in 2022. This was to commend them in areas of high performance and to help identify low-performance areas for improvement. The GUPI also serves as peer learning for the utilities in different regions or geographical areas.
NEDCo and GWL regional teams expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to engage the PURC and indicated their readiness to tackle all the shortfalls and concerns that were identified during the engagements. The PURC team also expressed their gratitude to the Utilities for their openness and willingness to address the challenges they encountered. The PURC team assured the utilities that, their concerns would be taken into consideration, and collaborative efforts would be made to improve the services provided to the citizens of Ghana.
The PURC team included: Dr. Ishmael Ackah, Executive Secretary; Alhaji Abukari Jabaru, Director, Regional Operations and Consumer Services; Dr. Eric Obutey, Director, Research, and Corporate Affairs; Mr. Edmund Kwaku Tuffour, Principal Manager and Head of Consumer Complaints; Mr Robert Tia Abdulai Aziz, Head of Corporate Affairs; PURC Northern Regional Manager, Mr. Edmund Boduah; Northern Regional Public Relations Officer of PURC, Mr. Mohammed Awal Khalilillahi; Complaints Officer, Imam Abdul-Wadud; Administrative Officer, Modesta Atinpaga; Head of Executive Secretary’s Secretariat, Ms. Maame Esi Eshun; and Mr. Bryan Adaare, I.T. officer at the Head Office of PURC.