Oops! NamPower overcharges Unam with N$67m – The Namibian

THE Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) has overcharged the University of Namibia (Unam) with around N$67 million and has been told to pay back the money.

The state electricity company was found to have overcharged the institution for electricity consumption at its agriculture training centre at its Neudamm campus east of Windhoek.

The Namibian has learnt that an agreement is being hatched between the two government-owned entities for NamPower to repay Unam the N$67 million.

The payment pertains to a refund Unam demanded after discovering it was being overcharged on its electricity bills at the Neudamm campus, which houses students majoring in various disciplines in agriculture.

Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho this week declined to give specific details on the agreement, citing confidentiality.

“Unusual electricity billing was observed at the Neudamm Campus. We cannot share details regarding the preliminary observation,” he said.

Namesho said the university escalated its concerns to NamPower, which conducted its own audit on Neudamm campus’ electricity account.

“We are currently in ongoing discussions with NamPower to address this matter,” he said.

Sources say the university’s management hired an independent consultant to audit electricity usage at Neudamm campus.

Alarm bells rang when Neudamm’s electricity bill started amounting to about N$1 million every month.

The independent study is said to have uncovered a problem with NamPower’s metering and billing systems dating back as far as 10 years.

“We unfortunately cannot comment on privileged client information,” NamPower spokesperson Tangeni Kambangula says.

Kambangula, however, says Unam did raise a concern on the Neudamm electricity account after which the utility performed a field and financial audit to determine the working condition of the equipment and the accuracy of the billing.

She says the outcome of the exercise has been communicated to the university, and that follow-up engagements on the resolution of the matter are ongoing.

News of the N$67 million refund comes just two months after NamPower boss Simson Haulofu announced that the utility made financial losses of N$2 billion last year.

In the past, the utility has faced complaints about overcharging, especially from institutional clients and farmers.

Kambangula, however, assures the public that the situation is under control.

She says customer queries are received from time to time and are dealt with in accordance with internal practices.

She says the utility conducts regular technical audits of its metering equipment to ensure it is in good working order.

Audits are also performed when billing outcomes are outside certain specified ranges requiring further investigation.

The outcomes of these audits are dealt with on merit.

Kambangula insists that no reimbursements have been made in the last two years.

“It is not always the case that an audit will show billing anomalies, thus in most cases, the outcomes confirm that the equipment is still operating within acceptable standards.

“As the results of each audit become available, they are analysed, and an appropriate response is implemented,” she says.

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