Keeping its eyes closed to the genuine problems of the consumers, the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) management seems more interested in being in the good books of the top hierarchy of the power sector through photoshoots and media frenzy events.
Monday’s photoshoot, about the so-called “LESCO facilitators”, was issued to the media with a statement that was tantamount to making fun of the consumers who visit the company’s complaint centres, SDOs and XENs offices for the correction of their bills, installations of meters and other problems on a daily basis in the scorching heat. The phone number of the LESCO complaint centre and those mentioned on the electricity bills are hardly responsive to consumers’ calls.
LESCO, which claims itself to be the most efficient distribution company in the country, constituted facilitation teams only two days after the visit of Energy Secretary Rashid Mehmood to its head office in Lahore.
The purpose of the teams, according to LESCO, is to facilitate consumers and address their complaints at their doorsteps. LESCO claimed that the teams comprising 13,000 employees exchanged phone numbers with the consumers to address their problems by reaching their doors without wasting any time.
“We have started facilitation work,” stated the LESCO spokesperson.
However, the ground situation is completely different to what is being claimed by the company. It has thousands of applications pending for installation of new meters and is running short of stock, said a source.
LESCO is the highest loss-making company out of the five distribution companies (DISCOs) of Punjab, the source added.
“The company last year registered a distribution loss of 2,161 million units against 756 million units by Gujranwala Electric Power Company, 1,004 million units by Faisalabad Electric Supply Company, 645 million units by Islamabad Electric Supply Company and 2,154 million units by Multan Electric Power Company.”
There are issues of open hanging clusters of wires in every market of Lahore, posing a serious threat of short-circuiting and to the safety of people.
The market representatives have frequently brought the matter to the attention of the LESCO management but it has not been solved. LESCO is in the habit of sending exaggerated bills (overbilling) to its consumers to cover theft. This mostly happens with the connivance of the company staff.
“Despite the fact that the pictures of electricity meters are printed on the bills, the problem of over-billing is still persisting,” said a trader of Lahore Chamber of Commerce.
Voltage fluctuation and tripping are also hitting the consumers hard in many areas and sometimes cause a loss of thousands of rupees to a consumer due to the burning of appliances and electronic machinery.
“Facilitation teams are merely an exercise at conveying a message to the high-ups,” said a source, adding the company lacked the capacity and plan to mitigate the challenges it was facing.
“Employees don’t even have the safety equipment. LESCO has meagre resources and mounting problems,” the source added.
A consumer, Muhammad Nasir from Ali Town, said LESCO should find a long-term solution to the issues instead of focusing on photoshoots.