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PURC threatens to sanction ECG over prepaid system errors

Hundreds of ECG customers converged on the Kwame Nkrumah office on Thursday.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), has indicated that it may sanction the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), over the challenges with its power prepayment system which has denied about 2000 customers access to electricity, as they are unable to purchase credit for their meters.

PURC in a statement on Thursday said it had directed ECG to furnish it with emergency response measures put in place following the challenges; a directive that has been flouted.

The Commission in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mami Dufie Ofori, however said the deadline for the update has been extended to December 8, 2017; failure to which ECG will suffer sanctions, including hefty fines.

“The Commission, as part of its enforcement process, also issued initial time-bound directives to the ECG to submit details of its emergency response measures carried out. The directive elapsed at 4:00pm on December 6, 2017. This has been followed up with a second directive to ECG requesting the company to show cause in respect of monetary penalties to be imposed with a response deadline of December 8, 2017, in accordance with due process,” the statement added.

PURC in the statement also noted that, it had ordered ECG to add more customer service desks “in all affected district offices to deal with the large number of customers, and inform the public of the measures being undertaken to resolve the problem.”

“This has culminated in the establishment of additional help desks at the ECG Project Office in Accra, even though this is still inadequate,” the statement added.

PURC also said it intends to “undertake a comprehensive independent investigation into ECG’s IT infrastructure to ascertain the root cause of the system failure which will inform further regulatory actions.”

Background

ECG customers in some parts of the capital have slept in darkness for almost five days because they are unable to top-up their credits, with long queues being recorded at the vending stations.

Residents of Achimota, Kaneshie, Dansoman and Korle Bu and surrounding areas,  have been most affected by the problem.

Thousands of customers also massed up at the Head Office of ECG near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, in a bid to have their problems resolved.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday over the development, the Head of Communications at ECG, William Boateng, acknowledged the problem and said their IT experts are working on addressing it.

“We had a challenge and it was Sunday evening that we got hint of some technical hitch with our server that is serving the BOT prepayment system and we are talking about Achimota district, Kaneshie district, Dansoman district and Korle bu district. We had a problem with the server, it was not responding to the data of our customers.”

Dumsor affected server, database

PURC in the statement also said its preliminary investigations suggest that the ECG’s database was affected due to “server power supply failure which affected the ECG database,” hence making it very difficult for customers within the affected areas to “purchase power.”

“On Tuesday, 6th December 2017 at 12:00pm, the system was restored, but could serve only customers who last purchased power prior to or by 10:00pm on 15th November 2017. This means that customers who last purchased power after 15th November 2017 to date cannot purchase power in the usual manner.”

PURC said the data they obtained from the ECG indicates that “over 2000 customers out of a total of 300,000 on the Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) prepayment system are affected. The situation has resulted in long queues and grave inconvenience to customers.”

It further assured to “protect consumer interest in this crisis, and will update the public on any further developments.”

 

By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana