The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has embarked on an exercise aimed at hooking all customers to its pre-paid metre system.
The initiative is a welcome move, considering that some people like to use electricity but see no need to pay for it.
We have cases where some customers have tortured ESCOM officials whon have been sent to disconnect power due to non-payment. I remember a Naperi Township man in Blantyre who used to threaten ESCOM officials with his pistol.
However, ESCOM is failing its customers by just changing metres, even when the customer is not there, and leaving no information about the next steps to be taken by the customer.
In my case, I had a pre-paid metre that run out of units on Tuesday. So, I went to buy the units in Blantyre Central Business District.
However, when I returned home around 9pm, I discovered that my metre was nowhere to be seen. I slept in the dark.
The next day, my neighbour informed me that the ESCOM guys had brought a new pre-paid metre. My hope was that I would be able to use it that evening. It was never to be.
The pre-paid metres did not work and kept telling me that my transactions were invalid.
I slept in the dark for two consecutive days.
On Thursday, I went to the ESCOM branch in Limbe, where I was told to go back home, take my new prepaid card for 'opening'. I had to go back home and ferry the card. Actually, I spent half the day being taken through this process.
It's only yester-night that I had electricity back.
However, when I told the ESCOM officials that I had already bought 'new' units since I was a pre-paid customer, they said I could not get my units back. It is like I have put a drop of water in the ocean that is ESCOM.
In the first place, I find ESCOM's approach to be childish. They should inform customers about the next steps. After all, it is ESCOM, and not the customer, which has replaced our prepaid metres.
Secondly, I think ESCOM is practicing thievery. Why can't the rich ESCOM give back my units? I am not asking for money, but units, after all!
I do not think K5, 000 is peanuts for me to lose my units like that. ESCOM needs competitors!