By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
According to the electricity consumer, who prefers anonymity, the cash power selling points set up by the National Electricity and Water Company (NAWEC) are located at distant places from their homes and are also not many. She explained that she initially had a conventional electricity meter but this was replaced by NAWEC with a prepaid meter or cash power. She also complained about the placing of the meter at a height on her wall which makes it difficult for them to reach it when recharging without standing on a platform. She claimed that when this was reported to NAWEC, they were told that it is because of the length of the cable they are given which cannot be exceeded.
She also complained about the long distance they have cover in order to get to the nearest outlet to buy cash power at Kairaba Avenue.
“Sometimes when you walk this long distance and get to the place, you find a very long queue of other customers coming from away places to buy cash power and you have stay there for a long time before reaching the seller,” she added.
A similar claim was made by one Fatoumatta Jallow, a resident of Brufut, who added that another problem they are facing in their area is the poor network that often affects the cash power outlet.
“It is not uncommon for customers at Brufut to be told that there is poor network at the outlet there and which compels them to go all the way to Brusubi to get cash power,” she said.
When these concerns were brought to the attention of Mr. Pierre Sylva, NAWEC Public Relation Officer (PRO), he started by saying that their doors are open and that customers who have complaints with their services should be coming to them rather than first going to the media.
Talking to this reporter in an interview at his office at NAWEC Kanifing headquarters, Mr. Sylva said they do not and should not install a cash power meter at a place which is difficult to access.
Mr. Sylva said NAWEC has now adopted the policy of changing all conventional meters to cash power.
The NAWEC PRO said the reason why they have adopted this approach is because many people with conventional meters have huge arrears which they have not settled and that the management decided to impose the prepaid metres in order to avoid such losses.
“It’s a policy of NAWEC and we are working together with government which is of this move of changing all conventional meters to cash power because people owe us a lot of money and they don’t want to pay. We cannot continue to be giving electricity to the people and at the end of the month they don’t pay,” said the NAWEC PRO.
He revealed that the conventional meter will be eventually phased out.
Mr. Sylva also said they are replacing the conventional with cash power at no cost to the customer.
On the claim of placing the meter at a high that is not easily accessible, he said the new meter is placed at the same position of the one it is replaces and that the cables are also of the same length.
On the issue of limited outlets to sell cash power to customers, the NAWEC PRO explained that they have introduced a lot of facilities through which one can buy cash power.
“We have such facilities as the Q power operated by Qcell, the Guarantee Trust Bank ATM card, the Elton fuel filing stations, and even the scratch card which one can use to buy cash power. All these are facilities that provide the normal service with the same charges,” said Mr. Sylva.
He added “I think NAWEC has done more than enough for the people with regards to the cash power.”
Mr. Sylva noted that NAWEC is utilising numerous avenues in order to sensitise the general public on the services it provides through radio programmes as well as newspapers.