A report by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) indicates that power utility, UMEME, failed to meet customer service standards set by the regulator in the last three quarters of 2016.
ERA is mandated by the 1999 Electricity Act to develop and enforce performance standards for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to protect the interests of consumers in respect to the quality and reliability of the electricity supply services.
ERA quality of service standards for customers require that at least, each meter be read once every three months and that a customer be reconnected within 48 hours after payment. The standards further require UMEME to attend to 70 percent of customer calls be within 30 seconds, 100 percent of emergency calls within 30 minutes and to investigate 100 percent of technical complaints within 5 to 7 working days. All non-technical complaints should be investigated within 30 working days, while investigations involving a 3rd party should be completed within 60 working days. For faulty meters, the regulator requires UMEME to replace them within five working days.
It is on basis of these standards that ERA assessed performance reports of UMEME for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2016.
After submission of reports, a team at ERA undertook a verification exercise of the data submitted on quality of standards. During this exercise, according to the report, “the team sampled data on quality of service standards pertaining to; Access of supply, Re-connection period, Calls answering, Complaints handling, and Notices for planned and unplanned outages.”
According to the report, ERA sampled accounts from Nakulabye, Banda and Wandegeya Umeme districts, all within Kampala. Whereas the standards require that 70 percent of customer calls be answered in 30 seconds, UMEME failed to meet this standard.
In Quarter 2 of 2016, according to the report, of the 516,390 calls received for the period under review, 230,245 calls were answered within 30 seconds meaning that Umeme was 45percent compliant.
In Quarter3, of the 506,935 calls received, 186,704 were answered within 30 seconds. This means that Umeme was 37 percent compliant. In Quarter4 of 2016, UMEME answered 256,712 of the 406,125 calls received within 30 seconds, representing 63percent compliance.
UMEME also failed to meet service standard for replacing faulty meters. The set standards require that faulty meters be read within five working days. For the second quarter for instance, Umeme received 232 faulty meter complaints but only 56 meters were replaced within the five days as per the standard. This meant that Umeme is only 24% compliant. The other 176 customers whose meters needed replacement needed an average of 21 days.