Ho, GNA - The Volta Region Office of the Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC), has reminded utility service providers to uphold the “Special Protection for Non-Residential Consumers” and “Special Protection for Residential Consumers”.
Mr Philip Agbezudor, Regional Manager of the PURC who gave the reminder cited Legislative Instrument (LI1651), which offered the special protection.
He was reacting to a complaint from the Jasikan Hospital on Thursday to the effect that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had cut power supply to its water reservoir.
Mr Agbezudor told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the Commission had received and settled 22 out of 28 complaints against utility providers since October 2011.
He said majority of the cases were against the ECG relating to power outages and low voltage.
He said the “Special Protection for Non-Residential Consumers” in the LI applies to premises used as medical facilities, old persons’ homes, residential schools or institutions providing care for people with disabilities, dependent or mentally retarded persons.
Mr Agbezudor said when any of these categories of consumers failed to pay for services provided by a public utility provider, there should be an agreement between the provider and the consumer on a payment arrangement.
“If no agreement is reached on such arrangement, the public utility must continue to provide the service for 30 days from the date of any scheduled disconnection.”
Mr Agbezudor said at the end of the 30 days the Public Utility provider must serve a written notice on a principal officer of the institution who owns or occupies the premises before terminating the service.
He said the protection became necessary to save lives, medicines and essential equipment in medical facilities.
Mr Agbezudor said any liabilities that might arise from non adherence to the provision would be borne by the official in charge of the utility, unless that person could prove that he or she acted with due diligence or that the offence was committed without his or her consent, knowledge or connivance.
On “Special Protection for Residential Consumers”, Mr Agbezudor said that applies to private premises where there are people aged 65 years and above, the blind and persons with disabilities.
He said in such cases the utility provider must contact the consumer and endeavour to agree on payment arrangement but where such an arrangement cannot be arrived at or made, the utility provider must continue to provide the service for a further period of 30 days from the date of the scheduled disconnection.
Mr Agbezudor said the utility provider must serve a written notice after the expiration of the 30 days on the occupant of the premises and wait for at least seven days before termination of the service.
He said where a certificate from a doctor indicates that an emergency exists in a home in which such persons live, which would be aggravated by the lack of the utility, the utility provider must continue to provide the service to the consumer for 30 days from the date of the scheduled disconnection.
Mr Agbezudor said the doctor’s certificate may be renewed for another 30 days if the doctor explains why the lack of service would aggravate the medical emergency and the consumer has sufficiently demonstrated his or her inability to pay the utility bill.
“At the end of the first 30 days or the renewal period, the public utility shall serve written notice on the owner or occupier of the premises and wait for at least seven days before terminating the service,” he said.
Mr Agbezudor said because consumers in general were not to be denied service for 24 hours on the settlement of their indebtedness to the utilities, disconnections should not be timed to coincide with the weekends.
He said when disconnections were carried out on Friday utility providers should make provisions for restoring service that same day when the consumer settles his or her indebtedness.