PURC calls ECG workers’ bluff

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The seven-day ultimatum given to the PURC by unionised workers of the ECG “will not hold water” Nana Yaa Jantuah-Head of Communications at the PURC, has said; suggesting that the directive for the ECG to suspend implementation of its new billing software will remain in force.

The unionised workers, on Monday, held a press conference to demand that the PURC withdraws its directive and allow the billing software’s roll-out or they will embark on a “massive strike” after seven days.

The workers claim the directive has exposed them to “several acts of intimidation, abuse, threats, and in some instances physical assault” from members of the public.

Nana Yaa Jantuah argues, however, that the ECG workers are not the only ones who have been on the receiving end of public anger.

“Do they know how unsafe we are as a regulator? There were times customers besieged our offices to attack us – some even went to the point of abusing staff and tearing off their shirts because they had issues. I’ve myself been attacked on countless occasion by customers. If they’re indeed talking about dissatisfaction then it’s not the directive that has caused this dissatisfaction – the dissatisfaction has come about because of the astronomical bills people were complaining about.

“Have they asked why it took us so long to come up with the decision? It took us so long because we did a thorough work on it before taking that bold step — We’re aware of the confrontations that were bound to come with it. At the time that they were fighting for an increase in tariffs, we gave them against all odds; they should learn to bear with the confrontations in the same manner.”

Madam Jantuah said the inadequacies in the system do not warrant any consumer to attack workers, cautioning that it is unlawful for customers to abuse workers over dissatisfaction.

General Secretary of the Public Utility Workers Union, Ato Bondzie Quaye, threatened that the workers would withdraw their services if the PURC did not heed their call.

He said the PURC failed to discuss its findings on the billing software with the ECG management before issuing the directive.

The action by the PURC, Mr. Bondzi-Quaye said, was very unfortunate and calculated to cause public disaffection toward the company.

“As a result of this directive, workers of the ECG have been exposed to several acts of intimidation, abuse, threats, and in some instances physical assault.

“Accordingly, the workers have decided that the PURC as a matter of urgency should retract this directive within seven working days with effect from today – or else all the frontline staff and field workers will withdraw their services, since the congenial atmosphere required to work is not guaranteed,” Mr. Bondzi-Quaye said.

Many customers of the ECG had made complaints about over-billing by the company following implementation of its new billing system.

Consequently, the PURC said it conducted investigations into the complaints; and on May 24, 2016 it issued a directive ordering the ECG to suspend implementation of the new billing system until further notice.

A statement by the PURC indicated that after a thorough investigation into the complaints about over-billing through its monitoring exercises, it came to the conclusion there was an anomaly in implementation of the billing system using the new software.

The billing software, called the Commercial Management System (CMS), was procured for the ECG under the second phase of a project supervised by the Ministry of Power, with funding from the World Bank.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians who held a meeting with senior officials of the ECG came to the conclusion that the power distributor is doing things right. The parliamentarians said high tariffs consumers are complaining about are not the result of faults but because of the tariff increments.