Servicom my foot!

Servicom my foot!
By Obo Effanga

You suddenly realise that the power outage in your residential area is localised.

Three days after, you receive a circular written by a resident in the neighbourhood stating that s/he made inquiries at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) office and was told that the cable supplying power to the area was ‘vandalised’. The circular says the cost of the vandalised item is N150, 000.

In simple words, the ‘beneficiaries’, (not consumers or customers you suppose) of electricity in the area should be responsible for replacing the equipment, which the PHCN had ‘benevolently’, and ‘graciously’ provided before now.

It seems that the service provider, Power Holding, as the name suggests is not under any obligation to supply you electricity power, but to hold it. The circular further asks residents who may know someone in PHCN to please make use of their contacts to ‘help’.

Several questions run through your mind. How are power cables, which in Nigeria hang up there from pole to pole ‘vandalised’?

Why should you be expected to provide the equipment for your service provider when you pay for the service provided?

Would your children’s school be right to ask parents to compulsorily pay for the replacement of its school bus because the one they use and which service the parents pay for is broken down or stolen?

Or why don’t the GSM service providers ask customers to pay for the damaged or ‘vandalised’ equipment in their neighbourhood to guarantee continued service? If residents of the neighbourhood pay for the new cables, would they claim ownership or would the equipment continue to belong to PHCN?

In any event would the cable and equipment not be supplied from PHCN’s stores? So how would that be accounted for and be reflected in the budget of the company? Would PHCN issue receipts to the contributors?

You finally hit an idea and decide to explore it – Servicom to the rescue! Servicom is government’s effort to reform the public service and cleanse it of its notorious poor attitude to service provision.

And so you make inquiries and get the contact number of the Servicom officer in PHCN. You get the officer on line and you relate your problems to him, certain that you are speaking with a service-minded person. Alas, your wish remains that, a wish!

Your respondent tutors you on your duty as a beneficiary of PHCN’s magnanimity; that you and the other residents in the neighbourhood are expected to serve as monitors to PHCN equipment (day and night, rain or shine) to ensure that nothing untoward happens to the equipment.

He in fact tells you that those who ‘vandalised’ the equipment must come from among you and in your neighbourhood because it is not possible for an ‘outsider’ to come into your area and interfere with PHCN equipment.

You try as much as you can to remind the officer that you and your fellow victims in the locality are not security officials or PHCN personnel to dedicate your time to policing electricity facilities.

Besides, the so-called vandalism might have happened in the night, after all the outage was in the night. You also tell him that it is more in the interest of his organisation to get the cables replaced and power restored in order for them to continue generating revenue from power supply.

But your ‘benefactor’ on the line would take none of that. He tells you that you urgently need the power supply, and that is why you telephoned him. He is damn right you know. But he is also damn stupid to think that this situation therefore makes him a demigod of electricity supply.

In fact he warns you that there are many people like you out there who also need electricity supply.

So if your neighbourhood does not appreciate that fact or cannot be grateful enough to the god of electricity by protecting its equipment or replacing the ‘vandalised’ one, PHCN would gladly take the electricity from you and ‘donate’ to others!

Completely taken aback, you begin to wonder if you hadn’t called the wrong number instead of Servicom, but hello, this is Servicom.

In fairness, the ‘Servicom officers’ in the various public agencies are not ‘staff of Servicom’, but staff of the host offices that were simply trained as reformists.

It seems however that many of these persons, like the story of the pig, may have been taken out of the dirt, with a new orientation, but the dirt may not have been taken out of them. Some of the public institutions surely are still in dirt and the PHCN is one of them.

The Compliance Evaluation Report as posted on Servicom website scores PHCN’s performance as 1.0 on a scale of 4 and describes it as ‘shameful’.

And shameful indeed was the response you got from the officer who certainly knows nothing about customer care, one of the areas incidentally, that the evaluation report wants PHCN to consider.

Published in NEXT newspaper October 26, 2009. (!___.csp)

Join the discussion

  • Dear Mr Obo,
    sometimes when you put up this articles I want to laugh because of the narration and when I do I feel guilty because I feel this is not a laughing matter. This is some serious stuff. there are so many things that need fixing in that country where do we want to start from. It is not a case of customer service is a classic sign of nigerian's failed attitude to public service and provision. Imagin the nonsense that we hear in that country about common electricity supply again. the system needs overhauling.

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