IT is not the best of times for the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH). The health institution is currently going through perilous times due to incessant power outages by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), which had led to loss of lives. In fact, activities at UCTH have been grounded in the past few weeks, a development which has caused some patients to move to private hospitals to seek medical attention.
Critical units like the maternity wards, accident and emergency ward, and the orthopedic ward are the most affected by the lack of power supply. Though the management of UCTH has taken it upon itself to provide alternative power supply in these units, the situation is still worrisome because the generators provided by the hospital can only run for few hours.
Some patients, who spoke to Nigerian Tribune in Calabar on Monday, bemoaned their fate, appealing to the authorities of PHEDC to ensure frequent power supply in order not to put their lives at risk.
Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Dr Thomas Agan, said several lives had been lost as a result of incessant power outages by PHEDC.
He said: “Let me tell you that so many people have died due to the incessant power failures in this hospital. Some time ago, we lost two patients because of irrational power cuts by PHEDC.”
The CMD said he was shocked that even with the epileptic power supply to the hospital, the business management of PHEDC stormed the hospital and disconnected electricity at a time they had six patients on their operating table, claiming the hospital was owing them N36 million.
Again wondered how PHEDC arrived at that figure even when the hospital had no metre, describing the bill s outrageous.
“As I speak to you because of this incessant power cuts, most of our equipment had broken down.
Agan appealed to the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to power problems in teaching hospitals across the country, stressing that the overhead of about N6m which came to the hospitals monthly could not buy a truck load of diesel to run the power generators of servicing the electricity bill.
He said PHEDC asked the hospital to pay the sum of N10 million before electricity would be restored.
However, leader of the communications team of PHEDC, Mr John Onyi, said they were not at war with UCTH, adding that the hospital remained their premium customer.
Onyi said: “One of our cardinal points is to distribute electricity to our customer including UCTH. We have the mandate to also collect revenue from our customers to be able to maintain the network. We understand they applied for a metre too which was given in August, and from that metre, they have consumed 2.9 million between August till date before they were disconnected.
“We are in the business of selling energy. Since May 2016, their bill has been piling until it rose to about 36 million. Our people wrote a letter to them to that effect, intimating them of their bill that had accumulated, which was acknowledged that same day. That letter was dated 19th August 2016 with the title:” Need to settle outstanding PHED energy Bill.
”We have a methodology that is approved by NERC; we do load assessment, which is properly taken into cognizance.