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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dhakaites not happy with electricity bill

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At least 50 percent of the households in the capital Dhaka think the electricity bill is not reasonable as they don't get expected services from the authority concerned. 28 percent expressed their doubts about the accuracy of electricity bills in some areas in Dhaka, although the per capita energy consumption in the country is one of the lowest in the world, according to a survey on 'State of Cities 2017 : Housing in Dhaka' conducted by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, a concern of the BRAC University.

The survey was conducted at old Dhaka, Rampura, Mirpur and Badda area of the Dhaka Mega city to evaluate the quality of electricity service and the satisfaction level of the consumers. The survey said that the demand for electricity supply has been increasing rapidly in the city. Only 14.5 percent reported to have electricity for the whole day while 76.8 percent reported to have it for 21 to 23 hours.

8  percent claimed that they have electricity for only 16 to 20 hours. The findings suggest that Dhaka is yet to provide 24-hour electricity facilities. If the area wise data is evaluated, it can be seen that households in old Dhaka is subject to longer time power outage compared to the other three areas.

The findings said that 91.8 percent reported that there is no specific time for power outage, which might make household chores difficult to carry out.  People were asked whether in the last 6 months from the time of the survey, if they experienced power outages for a whole day. Around 72 percent of the household reported no such incident. However, among 27.4 percent who reported to have faced such incidents, 38.2 percent reported to rarely have prior notice before an all-day outage, while 39.1 percent reported to sometimes have prior notice.

To look further into the reliability of the service, households were asked about the billing and payment for electricity service. Expectedly, winter payment is lower than the summer payment. It has generally been expected by the people that the winter payment will be lower, which is the case in reality. This increases the reliability of the payment system, the survey revealed.

There is on-going concern about receiving inaccurate bills in some areas in Dhaka, the survey said adding that residents of Dhaka do not seem to think the pricing is reasonable as per the service they receive.  To look into the safety, households were asked to report about the safety of the electricity connections they have at their houses. Almost 60 percent of households reported the connection to be mostly safe and 35 percent reported it to be safe.

Only around 40 percent of households reported to the authority to fix the problem while 33.3 percent did it by themselves. However, 76.9 percent of those who reported problems to the authority directly claimed that their problems got fixed quickly enough while only 3.8 percent reported to have fixed very quickly, the survey said.

The households were asked about their satisfaction level with the electricity service. Only 16 percent reported to be very satisfied with the services, whereas around 72 percent reported to be somewhat satisfied with the service. It can be concluded that the quality of electricity service has been improving. Having access to 24-hour electricity supply may improve the satisfaction level of the residents. 

-Tapan Khan, AA

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