With May’s end approaching, consumers who are still in arrears face the looming threat of dark moments, a sharp reminder of the effects that come with unpaid bills.
In a turn of events, NamPower, the state corporation responsible for power supply and generation, has issued a stern warning to its consumers.
As the shadows encroach upon the lives of those entangled in overdue payments, a narrative unfolds, revealing NamPower implementing a staged system, beginning with “stage one,” where defaulters can expect up to four hours of darkness each week as a sobering reminder to fulfil their financial obligations.
However, the gravity of the situation intensifies as the stages progress, potentially reaching “stage seven” – a disconnection lasting a staggering four hours per day throughout the entire week.
On Tuesday, NamPower held a conference on the company’s debt collection plan and debt repayment incentive in Windhoek.
“The disconnection of electricity supply to defaulting customers is divided into stages starting from stage 1 which will result in electricity suspension of four hours for one day in one week,” said Kahenge Haulofu,Managing Director of NamPower.
According to Haulofu, clients who fail to pay their bills will see these phases extended to include an extra day every week until stage seven, at which point there would be a 4-hour daily disconnect for the entire week.
Haulofu said throughout stages eight and nine, NamPower would lengthen the period of electricity suspension by 2 hours per day, per week, up to a maximum of eight hours per day.
“We trust that the debt collection plan will assist us with recovering our dues and prevent the overdue accounts from increasing even further,” he stressed.
He claimed that under the terms of the power supply agreements, NamPower is authorised to completely cut off the electricity supply to noncompliant consumers.
“Hence our resolution to introduce a Debt Collection Plan, which is a scheduled disconnection of electricity supply to defaulting customers and is planned to commence on 5 June 2023,” said Haulofu.
This plan, according to NamPower, will affect consumers who do not settle their delinquent accounts by May 31, 2023.
NamPower announced a suspension of energy service to customers due to long overdue debts in 2021, as part of a debt collection scheme.
Long overdue accounts by some NamPower customers triggered the debt collection plan, which involved the suspension of electricity to defaulting customers, at the time, with the total amount owed believed to be in the range of N$800 million at that time.
As a result, the power provider disconnected the electricity of defaulters.
NamPower would waive interest on outstanding debt accumulated over the previous 12 months for customers who pay their outstanding amount in full by May 31, 2023.
“With the re-introduction of the debt collection plan, we are offering an incentive to write off the interest portion of the outstanding debt accumulated over the preceding 12 months to customers who settle their outstanding amount in full on or before 31 May 2023,” said Haulofu.
Simultaneously, he stated that NamPower is owed N$1.5 billion, with N$842 outstanding.
This comes after the state-entity said this week that it will undertake a debt collection plan by suspending the electricity supply of defaulting customers.
“NamPower’s debt from its customers stand at N$1,5 billion with an amount of N$842 million being overdue,” said Haulofu.
During the press conference, Haulofu stated that most NamPower customers have ignored the company’s efforts to settle their bills, and that their debts continue to grow.
He stated that NamPower has always worked with its consumers on the subject of past-due accounts.
“I would like to remind you all that this was not the first time NamPower communicated on its debt collection plan, to sensitise its customers and the public at large, about what is owed to us by our customers and how this is affecting our operations. We issued a similar communication in 2021,” he said.
Haulofu stated that while the announcement is not pleasant for everyone affected, it is necessary since collecting what is owed to NamPower is critical to the company’s and the country’s long-term viability.
The managing director stressed that relatively few consumers make an attempt to honour payment plans or pay their outstanding accounts.
Furthermore, he stated that during client interactions, NamPower went above and beyond by offering to waive interest charges on delinquent debts settled within a 12-month period, as well as to increase the payment terms of all customers from 14 days to 20 days from the date of invoicing.
He went on to say that NamPower’s current condition forced it to look at possibilities for dealing with the problem.
Furthermore, Haulofu informed the media that NamPower had evaluated numerous solutions for dealing with the situation, adding that they believe they have found the most practicable method that will not jeopardise national infrastructure or endanger equipment.
The managing director reaffirmed that NamPower has the right to suspend electricity delivery due to a material breach of its clients’ payment obligations, which is supported by the NamPower credit policy.
He further stressed that NamPower has given its clients 30 days from the date of notification to make arrangements to settle their debts.
“We are happy to announce that CENORED-Okahandja and the Lüderitz Town Council have made acceptable arrangements with respect to their accounts and have been removed from the list of defaulters,” Haulofu announced.
He stated that the state entity recognises the critical role that energy plays in the socioeconomic growth of the country.
As a result, he stamped that in order for NamPower to continue fulfilling its goal, customers must keep their promise to pay their electricity bills on time.