The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) in the Republic of Ghana has responded to some social media comments which seem to suggest that the Commission is failing in its mandate to protect consumers’ interests in the West African country.
“Can PURC order ECG to compensate us, even if it means giving us power with an expiry date? I think it is time for PURC to be asked the hard questions. Why do they fine utility companies and keep the money for themselves, but never order the service providers to compensate customers who suffer? Come and see how the electricity is dancing like there is some silent music playing, which only the light sources can hear. And come and see me and my son sweating because we are stuck indoors in the darkness and heat.”
#PURCreplaceFinesWithcompensation,” a customer of ECG and GWCL posted on his Facebook wall.
However, a statement released and signed by Head of Public Relations and External Affairs at the PURC, Bawah Munkaila gave instances where it had instructed either the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) or Ghana Water Company (GWC) to pay compensations to affected consumers to stamp the PURC’s authority.
Notable among such actions, according to the PURC, include “The order for Electricity of Ghana (ECG) to compensate its prepayment customers to Achimota, Korle-bu, Dansoman and Kaneshie, all in the Greater Accra West District, who suffered difficulties in vending power from December 03-12 2017.
“On the basis of the number of consumers affected within the area, a total compensation paid amounted to one million, nine hundred and twenty-seven thousand, six hundred and twenty Ghana Cedis, forty-five pesewas. (GHS 1,927,620,45),” he justified.
He said these customers were credited with some amount of electricity units as their quota for the compensation after an order was made in January 2018 by the PURC.
The PURC’s Public Relations Officer said similarly, an order was issued for the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWL) to reduce tariffs by 10.08 percent across board for all customer categories as a result of non-compliance with tariff decision and regulatory directives in relation to the Teshie Desalination Plant, which led to a breach in section 11 of the Public Utilities Regulatory Act 1997 (Act 538).
He explained that cost of operating the plant was included in the tariff for GWCL but was not being operated and, therefore, water customers were paying more than they were supposed to pay.
He said that this 10.08 percent reduction in GWCL tariff was to serve as forfeiture, if the component of tariff related to the Operation Desalination plant, refund of over-recovered tariff income and compensation to GWCL customers were not complied with.
Based on this order, he said GWCL refunded a total of fourteen million and ninety-seven thousand, one hundred and forty-six (GHS 14.097, 146.00) to all its customers.
He added that that amount represented five months of tariff income unfairly over-recovered by GWCL between March 15, 2018 and September 15, 2018.
With reference to undue charges, the PURC’s response said the GWCL paid to its customers an amount totaling five hundred and forty-two thousand, thirty-eight cedis, forty-eight Ghana Cedis (542,938.48).
Furthermore, Mr Munkaila stated that the Commission ordered that customers be refunded in a form of adjustments on their bills due to wrongful billing and it amounted to a total of one million, six hundred and sixty-four thousand and thirty-four Ghana cedis, thirty-eight pesewas (1664,034.38) passed, and credited within the year 2019 to affected customers.
“The PURC is, therefore, committed in ensuring customer service satisfaction and also seeing to the economic viability of the utility service providers,” he assured Ghanaians.