For over two months now, credible reports that have filtered to The Independent from some anxious citizens indicate that those mandated by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to read domestic metres are ripping off the company's customers of huge sums of money they (the staff) claim as penalties.
Sleuth investigations conducted by newsmen point to the fact some unscrupulous persons, through dubious means, are reaping profits from this illegal activity and are thus causing huge financial loss to the ECG.
This development, according to our investigations is very rife in the Accra West Region and has reached alarming proportions, with students who are on practical attachment with the company taking part in it. These unscrupulous operatives, this reporter discovered, are mostly metre readers, who are on contract basis with the company. The metre readers and interns, have organised themselves into groups ranging between six and nine.
In the course of the investigations, newsmen gathered that these characters wielding fake ECG maps, fictitious identification cards and other documents go round claiming to be ECG staff and end up duping unsuspecting customers of hug sums of money.
As part of their modus operandi, they also resort to the use of some of the names of top ECG staff to commit the criminal offence. For instance, it was established that these unscrupulous people use name of Mr Charles Obeng who is the Loss Control Union (LCU) Coordinator to perpetuate such criminal offence.
“First, they ask for the receipts of all the bills paid. They then pretend to be dissatisfied and demand to inspect the metre,” a source of the ECG told newsmen.
“It is at this point that they tamper with the seal of one's meter and then charge the customer for tampering with it”, the source added. “If a customer is not able to argue his/her case out properly, these unscrupulous persons threaten the customer with court action for illegal connection. Mostly in such a state most customers are more than ready to pay any amount of money these persons demand just to have the proposed charges dropped,” our source said.
This reporter also learnt that some of these crooked ECG personnel go to the extent of issuing fake ECG receipts to customers after duping them. An ECG customer who has been a victim of these crooked personnel told The Independent that: “I was, in fact, duped by three of such deceitful people after I had proven beyond all reasonable doubt that I have not tampered with my metre. My plea was not taken and they duped me to the tune of 800,000 thousand cedis.” When The Independent contacted the Loss Control Unit (LCU) Coordinator of Accra West ECG, Mr Charles Obeng, he confirmed that his outfit has received countless complaints on the activities of such criminals. He disclosed that on the 2nd day of this month, two of such persons were arrested by the police and are at the moment in police custody.
He gave the names of the culprits as John Abedu, a ring leader, who had been on an attachment with the company in 2001 from May-August. His accomplice, Larry Aseidu, is also in police grips.
Briefing this reporter about the said incident, Mr Obeng said, on that fateful day a group of young men numbering about six invaded the premises of Sigma Company Ltd at the North Industrial Area. Claiming to be ECG staff they insisted on inspecting the company metre, they turned round and accused the Manager of an illegal connection. This, Mr Obeng stated sparked off a heated argument, which made the Manager of the said company suspicious. He thus invited the leader of that group, Larry Asiedu, to his office, “(With foreboding about) that invitation… they bolted from the warehouse of the company” the LCU Coordinator narrated.