GANTA, Nimba – Jungle Energy Power, the private company managing the electricity grid in Nimba, has begun issuing the first consignment of over 1,000 meters to customers in Ganta that will now allow them to operate on a prepaid basis.
This transition from a post-paid system to prepaid aims to alleviate the constant friction between customers and the company over the meter reading and bill payment processes. Moreover, it will mean that customers in Nimba will pay similarly to Montserrado customers pay.
Bob Marshall Dolo, the public relations officer of Jungle Energy, told The Bush Chicken that the post-paid system has allowed many customers to accumulate large amounts of debt, which means the Liberian government cannot in turn pay Cote d’Ivoire, where the electricity is generated.
Dolo said there were frequent disputes between customers and the company because of a lack of understanding over how to read the meter.
“So, to avoid all these things, we decided to bring the prepaid system and that is why it is being introduced,” he added.
Dolo said the first set of 1,500 meters is now in Monrovia and will be brought to Monrovia incrementally.
“As I speak to you now, we brought the first 500 pieces to Nimba and started the installation,” he said. “We have installed over 80 of them now; the people are happy about this and this is a welcomed news for the people.”
Unlike in Monrovia where customers purchase tokens from a variety of vendors to recharge their meters, in Nimba, customers will deal only with Jungle Energy. Customers pay for the amount of electricity they want and then receive a 20-digit number that they punch into the meter to load the credits.
To educate the public, Jungle Energy has provided a user manual from the manufacturer of the meter in addition to its own one-page leaflet.
Jungle Energy has made it clear that the transition to the prepaid system does not release customers of their previous bill. According to Dolo, customers who receive the prepaid meter are expected to work with Jungle Energy to set up a payment plan.
“They will have to come to [the Jungle Energy] office so that we all can agree on a new payment plan for the old bills from the postpaid system,” he said.
The company is only making the switch from the old meter to the new meter free of charge for existing customers. New clients will have to pay to receive the meter and get connected.
“If it is the first time of a customer coming to our office to be connected, he has to pay the US$60 connection fees,” Dolo said.
Featured photo by Arrington Ballah