The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), a key player in Nigeria's energy sector, is grappling with revenue losses due to widespread non-payment of electricity bills across its service areas. The company serves Cross River, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Bayelsa States. Among the debtors, the Afam Community from the Oyibo Local Government Area of Rivers State stands out, with a cumulative debt of N31.5 billion. This amount, which also includes arrears from the pre-PHED era, makes Afam the company's highest debtor.
PHED's Managing Director, Dr. Benson Uwheru, expressed his concerns during a recent media interaction. He pointed out a prevalent sense of entitlement among many communities, leading them to consume electricity without paying for it. This issue is not limited to Afam; communities like Itu in Akwa Ibom and several in Bayelsa State are also guilty of this practice.
The Additional Burden of Power Theft and Vandalism
Power theft, vandalism, and outstanding bills from government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) add to PHED's woes, with the company accumulating about N400 million in debts monthly. Despite these challenges, PHED has managed to achieve a 60% revenue growth, generating about N7 billion each month.
The company is actively collaborating with the government to recover these debts and restore its operational efficiency. However, the challenges of meter tampering and deliberate non-payment by customers continue to hinder its progress. Dr. Uwheru urged MDAs and states to fulfill their obligations to PHED to ensure the uninterrupted provision of electricity services.