#Article (Archive)

About NAWEC cashpower meters and customer care

Sep 15, 2011, 2:30 PM

The news in the papers that NAWEC is procuring 60,000 Cash-power meters is good news for the national power utility.

As a pre-paid system, it is good for NAWEC’s cash flow, and would boost revenue for the power company, making the issue of customers’ arrears become a thing of the past.

When we get to that situation, we would expect that NAWEC’s financial woes would be over.

Yet, using the Cash-power meters comes with a lot of headaches for NAWEC customers.

Already, there are complaints that the Cash-power meters consume power too fast; in any case, much faster than the old-style NAWEC meters.

Is this by design, as alleged by some people?

Another aspect of this new development about Cash-power meters is that Cash-power customers are made to queue, and to struggle daily at the few NAWEC outlets provided for this vital service, in order to get credits to refill their Cash-power meters.

The outlet located at NAWEC’s headquarters building at the old Cooperatives premises near Westfield Junction is the most notorious place.

Drive past the place on a Saturday night, for example, and you will be astounded by the sight of a very long queue spilling out onto the street, as people wait for their turn to “buy Cash-power”.

And, left wondering how can NAWEC treat people in this way!

It is our view that this treatment of NAWEC customers is, to say the least, unacceptable, and PURA’s consumer welfare unit should look into this matter immediately – this is a glaring problem for it to address.

Now, our point is, with 60,000 new Cash-powers to be installed in Gambian households, is NAWEC expecting that its 60,000 additional Cash-power customers will now be joining the queuing regularly?

Action by PURA is necessary, especially when you consider that people in Banjul cannot but “get Cash-power” in the capital city, during week-ends, and must travel to the Kombos to purchase credits to refill their Cash-power meters, otherwise they sleep in darkness.

Indeed, in this day and age of automated systems, like the ATM machines installed by the banks for their customers, NAWEC must consider introducing machines in strategic locations, where one could simply slot in their money and the machine will spit out a slip with the magic credit numbers to refill our Cash-power meters.

Could NAWEC learn from the GSM companies and use a system like the Scratch Cards for mobile phone refill, for the soon to be ubiquitous Cash-power meters?

This is food for thought for NAWEC’s management, and all who have a stake in the success of NAWEC’s experiment with the Cash-power meters.