UCH in darkness, begs Minister to offset N495m electricity bill

The University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan is seeking the intervention of the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Mr Wale Edun to offset its outstanding electricity bill to the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC.

The electricity company has disconnected UCH three times this year owing to the backlog of electricity bills it owed the company estimated at N495m.

This has put the facility in incessant darkness, exposing patients, their relatives and medical staff to hardship and health hazards.

In the letter to the Minister, the UCH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo lamented that the hospital has not been able to fulfill its duties of providing quality healthcare delivery to its patients due to the incessant disconnection of electricity from the hospital.

“The hospital is placed on commercial rating by the IBEDC which has resulted in the high monthly billing of the hospital and has eventually led to the accumulated indebtedness of N495m.

“It is important to mention that the hospital has been finding it difficult to pay up the outstanding bill owing to the fact that the facility offers humanitarian services to save lives of patients who are mostly INDIGENTS referred from different parts of the country, as well as accident victims brought by the Federal Road Safety Corps who cannot be rejected in line with the Federal Government directives.

“In addition, the monthly subventions by the Federal Government are rather too low to service various expenditures including the IBEDC bill,” the letter read in part.

While appreciating the minister for the assistance received in the past, the CMD pleaded for an immediate intervention as the hospital has come under threat of indefinite power disconnection by the IBEDC.

Meanwhile, the UCH management has notified all heads of departments of the power outage due to the disconnection of power supply by the IBEDC.

In a circular passed on Monday, the management pleaded with members of staff, students and patients to exercise patience as it has initiated the process to ensure that power is restored to the hospital as soon as possible.

READ ALSO: UCH Ibadan working to restore power supply amid disconnection over debt

“Steps are being taken to ensure the provision of alternative power supply to some critical areas in the hospital with priority to the service areas which are in high demand through Inverters and Generators.

“Heads of Departments are implored to kindly bring the content of this circular to the attention of members of staff in their departments,” the circular instructed.

Energy adviser to UCH, Shadrach Akinbodunse had earlier written to the IBEDC alleging an over hike in bill paid by the hospital.

Akinbodunse stated that IBEDC billing to UCH is not correct, doubting the integrity of the meter that the electricity company used for the billing.

“I want your office to know that IBEDC erred by disconnecting a lifesaving institution contrary to NERC Consumer Protection Regulations Chapter 2 Section 25(2) and this is the third disconnection in two months.

“This disconnection has affected the running of the institution and has also claimed a lot of lives of the admitted patients whose treatments depend on electricity,” he lamented.

While requesting an immediate reconnection of the health facility by the IBEDC, he emphasized that the hospital has paid N40m from its arrears of indebtedness.

However, the IBEDC argued that it had to disconnect UCH repeatedly because the hospital had failed to come up with a plan to defray the outstanding debt of ₦495m.

The Chief Key Accounts Officer at IBEDC, Johnson Tinuoye asked UCH to settle its outstanding debt because the disco pays for every kilowatt of electricity distributed.

“UCH is on Band A and they get a 24-hour power supply. Their supply is top-notch. And they are the only customer in that category that will owe that amount of money, yet we would leave their supply because we try to understand their nature of work.

“For every kilowatt of light, we pay for it. The downside is that when we don’t pay we are charged interest. We pay about 26 percent on outstanding payments.

“We are not saying UCH should pay everything but it should give us a clear plan on how to pay this money because it is market money. Desp ite our plea to the hospital, all seems to be falling on deaf ears,” said Tinuoye.

 

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