The Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC) as part of its 2023, “Year of Operational Efficiency,” paid working visits to the Upper East Regional offices of Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), and the Ghana Water Limited (GWL). The visit, which took place between October 23 and October 24, 2023, was aimed at enhancing stakeholder collaborations and to bring the Commission's services closer to the consuming public in general and the Utility Service Providers in particular.
The Executive Secretary of PURC, Dr. Ishmael Ackah, in his opening remarks, outlined the purpose of such engagements, indicating that, there was a need for the regulator to periodically meet with the utilities in the regions, to foster good working relations and to understand challenges faced by the regulated utilities in the regions, while undertaking their daily operational activities to ensure the provision of quality services.
The GWL and NEDCo gave comprehensive presentations on their Operations, highlighting some of their challenges, such as the use of illegal energy meters, meter theft, low revenue mobilization, due to the inability of customers to pay their bills, bushfires, long spans of distribution lines, without bulk supply points and the wanton destruction of distribution water lines by contractors.
Dr. Ackah charged the utilities to conduct and enhance their public sensitization programs to cover all their customers and stakeholders in general. He further tasked the Utilities to communicate to their customers on timely bases, whenever a challenge affected service delivery. He also indicated that, PURC in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has established the Center for Public Utility Regulation (CEPUR) and encouraged the utilities to enroll in some of the courses being offered at the Center.
The Head of the ES’ Secretariat, Ms. Maame Esi Eshun, in her presentation to the Utilities, explained that the Commission has developed a holistic approach to measuring the utilities' performance in the regions, using the Ghana Utilities Performance Index (GUPI), which was launched in February 2023. The GUPI would also serve as a peer learning mechanism for the Utility Service providers in the various regions and districts.
Ms. Eshun walked the Utility Service providers through the 2021 Ghana Utility Performance Index (GUPI), which was shared with the utilities. Discussions were held on the indicators underpinning the areas of high and low performances of the respective Utilities.
The Executive Secretary of PURC, Dr. Ishmael Ackah; the Director of Research and Corporate Affairs, Dr. Eric Obutey, and the Upper East Regional Manager of PURC, Mr. Seth Kponyo, on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 were hosted by A1radio in Bolgatanga, to inform and educate consumers on how tariffs are arrived at, both in the major and minor tariff reviews and the need for the quarterly reviews.
Dr. Ackah reminded listeners about the existence of PURC in the region, and encouraged listeners to report leaks, illegal activities, and any untoward behaviors first and foremost to the utility service provider. He noted that, when the expected action from the Utilities is not taken, customers are at liberty to report such activities to the Commission for immediate redress.
Dr. Ackah urged consumers, who have difficulties settling their bills to reach out to service providers for payment plans, instead of resorting to illegal connections. “You have a service with the utilities, if for any reason, you lost your job, for some reason, a bill has accumulated, please go to the utilities, and tell them your challenges; most of the utilities have what we call payment plans, they can spread it for you and you pay gradually instead of doing illegal connections or bypassing, if you do that, it becomes a criminal issue and you may be prosecuted,” he stated.
The PURC team comprised, Dr. Ishmael Ackah, the Executive Secretary; Alhaji Jabaru Abukari, Director of regional Operations and Consumer Services; Dr. Eric Obutey, Director of research and Corporate Affairs; Mr. Edmund Kwaku Tuffour, Principal Manager, Consumer Services and Monitoring; Mr Robert Tia Abdulai Aziz, Head of Corporate Affairs; PURC Upper East Regional Manager, Mr. Seth Kponyo; Upper East Regional Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Adam Suleiman; Head of Executive Secretary’s Secretariat, Ms. Maame Esi Eshun and Mr. Bryan Adaare, I.T. officer at the Head Office of the Commission.