On Top Officials, Mentions Colossal Amounts And Demand Answers On New Billing Software
Workers of under fire power company, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), have fingered top management, as those behind the outrageous bills being pushed down the throats of customers. They asked the public to take on their management, until they respond to some key questions on the beleaguered ECG billing system satisfactorily.
The workers, who are incensed, because of the endless accusations by the general public, have mentioned Belinda Dwamena and Managing Director (MD), Robert Dwamena, a Kenyan national by name, Esther and Osei Tawiah, as the culprits behind the procurement of the new computer software for billing electricity consumers.
Osei Tawiah, a top management officer at the state power distributor, has been mentioned to The Herald as the key architect behind the procurement of the problematic billing software codenamed Commercial Management Information System (CMIS) to replace the previous software; Customer Billing Information System (CBIS).
As a result of the CMIS, currently electricity bills, are printed on an A4 sheets with little or no information for postpaid consumers, apart from the amount due.
The previous bill is printed on small sea blue or red cards with a self-explanatory details, such as service charge, government levy, street light, total this month, government subsidy, net charge, Balance before total payment and total amount as per the CBIS.
The price of the software, is also another problem as there are conflicting figures making the rounds on the corridors of the state power distribution company. While others, have mentioned 8 million Euros, others have told The Herald that the software was actually procured at a whopping 15 million Euros.
They challenged management to disclose the real cost of the new billing system, as well as the reason behind the procurement, explaining that to the best of their knowledge, there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the previous software; Customer Billing Information System (CBIS) to necessitate its replacement and attracting public embarrassment, insults and physical attacks.
The workers told The Herald that, there was nothing wrong with ECG meters, but that the problem is with their new billing system, which they are struggling to understand and work with. They disclosed that, the ECG billing system, has technically collapsed with people paying bills which were not theirs. The impression given The Herald was that, residents are now paying commercial bills, instead of residential bills.
It will be recalled that, Robert Dwamena, procurement officer, replaced former Managing Director, Rev. William Hutton, after the latter was asked in November 2014 to join the then newly established Power Ministry. The procurement process for the new billing system was immediately started by Mr. Dwamena, with a piloting system, which commenced in Kwabenya in the Greater Accra Region on May 18, 2015.
The explanation by the workers to The Herald, goes to confirm popular view by customers, including the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) that, customers are being ripped off, following the increment announced by the Public Utility Regulation Commission (PURC) last year.
According to the workers, people in management position, including the aforementioned persons, contracted a Kenyan lady, who brought into the country, the said software for the commencement of the billing.
The Kenyan lady, named only as Esther, is said to be lodging in a hotel in Accra at the expense of the broke ECG and once in a while, she is called to aid officials on how the software works.
The strange thing is that, though management has mentioned Esther as having brought into the country the new system with the claim that the system is in use in Kenya, Spanish nationals were the ones who installed the software and provided the so-called training for the staff of ECG, further deepening their suspicion about the whole deal.
The earlier software,Customer Billing Information System (CBIS) introduced many years ago, they insisted worked to perfection, and had no issue until, the Commercial Management Information System (CMIS) was hastily introduced by management last year, for an obvious “create, loot and share scheme”.
The CMIS was first piloted in Kwabenya, a suburb of Accra on May 18, 2015, and although workers say, they are not aware how successful the piloting went, the new billing system was extended to other parts of the country.
They decried that, they did not clearly understand how the software worked as a result of the inadequate training, hence the current confusion.
The workers are demanding that the reports of the Kwabenya piloting programme, be made public, adding if this is done, the public, will get to know if indeed, the implementation was successful or not.
District officers, who under normal circumstance were expected to know their way around the new software, are also found wanting and helpless anytime they are confronted with strange and outrageous bills from both postpaid and prepaid consumers.
The training workshop, which was organized for officials drawn from Accra, Kumasi and other places, did not make much impact, as they are still unfamiliar with the said software.
They said, long before the directive by government and the PURC last Wednesday, the ECG billing system, had collapsed and as a result, large customers are being billed without the required detail information, hence the outrageous bills and power cuts for prepaid meter users and disconnections at some companies and industries, as well as postpaid meter owners.
The workers are asking that, the old software, CBIS, be brought back to replace the current difficulty and asked that management led by Mr. Dwamena, come out to explain why they procured such a technology without the necessary education, adequate information and training.
The Herald, also gathered that because the ECG officials are unable to work properly with the software, bills of customers, are wrongly sent to customers when they have not in fact used that amount of power.
They are accusing management of benefitting monetarily from the new software, which has led to them courting total disaffection from the public.
Zones where the new billing system is operational include, Accra East made up of Makola, Teshie, Roman Ridge, Legon, Mampong – Akuapim, Kwabenya.
Accra West zone include, areas such as Avenor, Dansoman district, Korle-Bu and Amansaman.
Some people are, however, lucky, for instance, the people of Nsawam in the Eastern Region, are said to be on a different software billing system being operated by some Chinese, and so they are excluded from the current software challenge.
More to come!