Electricity Company drags UCH to NERC over N217 million debt

Electricity station used to illustrate the story.
Electricity station used to illustrate the story.

The management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) on Monday dragged the University College Hospital Ibadan (UCH) to the arbitration panel of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over a N217 million debt.

Bamidele Falade, Manager, Business Hub Commercial of IBEDC, told the NERC panel sitting in Ibadan that the management decided to involve third party intervention because of the huge debts owed the Disco.

Mr Falade said the company had appealed to the management of UCH on why it should pay the outstanding debt of N217 million but to no avail.

According to him, IBEDC is constrained to disconnect electricity supply to UCH due to the services it renders but it has ignored paying bills despite several appeals.

“The huge outstanding debt is affecting our operations. UCH is the only hospital that has refused to pay the electricity debt owed among the hospitals within our franchise areas.

“We urge NERC as an independent arbiter to implore the UCH management to pay,” he said.

Mr Falade said the hospital with a monthly bill of between N20 million and N24 million was enjoying 22 hours uninterrupted power supply daily.

“If we have the money they owe us, we will be comfortable. It will strengthen our operations.

“We appeal to the commission to instruct the UCH management to give definite timeline for the payment of the debt,” he said.

He said the long-standing debts were the biggest worry of the Disco, and that the UCH debt burden was too big for it to bear.

Yemi Shiyanbola, the Director of Administration, UCH, admitted owing the debt but appealed to the Disco to give the hospital authority ample time to settle the bills.

Mr Shiyanbola said the management was constrained due to the low subvention received from the federal government.

He added that the government had promised to take over payment of electricity bills of all federal hospitals but the promise was yet to be fulfilled.

He lauded the management of IBEDC for the effective service and expressed appreciation for its patience toward the huge debt.

Mr Shiyanbola said the management had paid N143 million from January to September.

“We are not disputing the debt because it is accurate, but we are appealing to IBEDC for easy mode of billing.

“We are struggling to pay the little we could from our internally generate revenue because the subvention given to us by government is very low.

“Henceforth, we promise and agree that we will ensure 100 per cent payment of our monthly bills while we spread the outstanding debt for easy payment,” he said.

Mr Shiyanbola told the panel that the management of UCH would have a meeting and revert to NERC on the modality of payment.

Yinka Oseni, the Chairman of the NERC arbitration panel, told both parties to see NERC as an objective arbitrator.

He said the essence of the arbitration panel was to hear both parties and advise accordingly, while urging the parties to see themselves as partners in progress.

He said: “I am happy that you admitted owing the debt, this shows that there is no dispute. It is really a huge debt which will definitely affect the IBEDC operations.

“We decided to invite both parties to the panel to give them fair hearing.

“The management of UCH should try and comply with the agreement reached on payment mode to avoid confrontation.”

He urged the UCH management to report back to the panel within a month on its debt payment schedule.

(NAN)

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