The Eastern Regional Office of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), for the first quarter of 2023, has tackled issues of non-payment of utility fees and overbilling incidents to the tune of GH₵1.3million.
The PURC in fulfilling its mandate of receiving, investigating and settling disputes between consumers and utility service providers addressed a complaint lodged by the Ghana Water Company Limited, (GWCL) against some 48 Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the region for not paying their bills amounting to GH₵1,298.867.05.
With the intervention of the commission, the GWCL was able to recover an amount of GH₵326,093.64 by the end of the first quarter of 2023 amicably without disconnections. The commission is working with the utility provider to retrieve the remaining GH₵972,774 within the second quarter.
During the same period, the commission received complaints of disputed bills, amounting to GH₵27,916.71, against the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) from some three customers.
Its intervention ensured the ECG passed an adjustment of GH₵27,268.07, leaving an outstanding balance of GH₵648.64 for the customers to pay.
Eastern Regional Manager – PURC, Jude Aduamoah-Addo, explained that the PURC generally received 324 complaints from ECG and GWCL and resolved 311 cases, representing a 95.98 percent resolution rate. The 13 outstanding complaints are at various stages of resolution.
The ECG had 274 complaints lodged against it; and resolved 268, representing 97.81 percent while GWCL had 50 complaints against it, out of the GWCL resolved 43 constituting, 86 percent.
“Out of the 324 complaints received, 271 were about the quality-of-service challenges – such as power outages, no flow of water, cable and transformer issues, low voltage, phase-off, power fluctuation, etc., which meant consumers were dissatisfied with the services rendered them by the regulated utility companies,” he stated.
He mentioned that having realised consumers were more comfortable reporting incidents electronically, various digital platforms were made available – including call-in and social media pages. He also indicated that about 179 cases, representing 55 percent of the total number of complaints lodged, were received electronically – mostly on social media.
Initially, about 110 complaints were lodged with ECG but due to unsatisfactory resolution, customers went further to refer them to the commission.
Complaints from the various districts
Out of the 274 complaints lodged against ECG, the Koforidua District had the highest number of 134, with Akwatia District having the lowest. Out of the 50 complaints filed with the commission against the GWCL, the highest of 22 were received from the New Juaben East District while Asamankese got the lowest of one.
Mr. Aduamoah-Addo emphasised that the commission is committed to protecting the interests of consumers and utility service providers by balancing consumer expectations with utility needs. “The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission has declared 2023 the year of ‘operational efficiency’ aimed at ensuring a balance between quality-of-service delivery and revenue recovery. This is to help both service providers and consumers to keep their sides of the contract between them,” he stated