By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The management of Ibadan Distribution Company on Monday dragged the University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCH) to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) arbitration panel over N217 million indebtedness.
Mr Bamidele Falade, the 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.
Falade said that the company had appealed to the management of UCH on why they should pay their outstanding debt of N217 million but to no avail.
According to him, they are constrained in disconnecting their electricity due to the services they render but they have ignored paying bills despite several dialogue and appeal.
“The huge outstanding debt is affecting our operations. UCH is the only hospital that has refused to pay the electricity debt among the hospitals within our franchise areas.
“We urge NERC as an independent arbitration to assist in imploring the UCH management to pay,” he said.
Falade said that the hospital which monthly bill was between N20 million and N24 million enjoys 22-hours constant 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 panel to instruct the UCH management to give definite timeline for the payment of the debt.
Falade: ”We have increased effective power distributions to UCH but yet,they refused payment.
He said that long-standing debts was the biggest worry of the DISCO.
According to him, the company is already grappling with too many issues.
He said UCH debt was burden too big for the Disco to bear.
Mr Yemi Shiyanbola, the Director of Admin, UCH admitted owing the debt but appealed to the Disco to give them ample time to settle the bills.
Shiyanbola said that the management was constrained due to the low subvention received from Federal Government.
He added that the government had promised to take over payment of electricity bills of all Federal hopistals but yet to take effect.
He lauded the management of IBEDC for the effective service and expressed appreciation for its patience toward the huge debt.
He said that the management was paid the sum of N143 million from January to September.
“We are not disputing the debt because it’s accurate, but we are appealing to IBEDC for easy mode of billing.
“We are struggling to pay the little we could from our internal revenue generated because government subvention given to us 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.
Shiyanbola told the panel that they would have a meeting and revert back to NERC on payment modality.
However, Mr Yinka Oseni, the chairman of the NERC arbitration panel told both parties to see NERC as an objective arbitrator, adding that the panel was there to mediate between the two parties.
Oseni said that the essence of of the arbitration panel was to hear both parties and adivse accordingly, while advising the parties to see themselves as partners in progress.
He said:”I am happy that you admitted to owing the debt, this shows that there is no dispute.It is really a huge debt which will definitely affect the IBEDC operation.
“We decided to invite both parties to the panel to give them fair hearing.
“The management of UCH should try and comply to the agreement reached on payment mode to avoid confrontation,” he advised.
Oseni advised UCH to ensure prompt monthly payment of its bill, while asking them to spread the other debt for payment convenience.
Oseni urged the UCH management to report back to the panel within a month on its debt payment schedule.