Users suffer for shortage of recharge points

Sadiqur Rahman | Published: 23:48, Sep 08,2018 | Updated: 15:50, Sep 10,2018


Prepaid electric meter. -- New Age file photo

Prepaid electric meter users are facing hassles standing in long queues for hours to recharge their power cards amid a shortage of recharge points.

Besides, technical glitch and limited logistics are for which more than 1.5 million prepaid meter users find recharging their cards through bank booths troublesome.

They have complained about shortage of recharging facilities and queuing up at the existing recharging points for hours.

Top officials of the power distribution utilities, however, have told New Age that prepaid card recharging facilities like vending stations and mobile transaction will be increased soon.

Prepaid meter user Kazi Nasirullah, owner of a residential building at Mohammadpur in the capital, recharges six prepaid cards with minimum Tk 7,000 as power tariff in a month.

On Thursday, Nasirullah failed to recharge the cards in his first attempt as the card reader of First Security Islami Bank’s Mohammadpur branch went out of order.

The bank officials told New Age that the machine was not working for the last four days.

Nasirullah then went to a Network Operation and Customer Service centre of Dhaka Power Distribution Company at Lalmatia and recharged his cards.

‘I often face problems in recharging the cards as the number of recharge points is too few,’ he said.

Sharmeen Ahmed, a tenant of Mohammadpur area, shared her experience saying it often took three hours in queue to reach the money transaction booth of a bank if there was a technical glitch.

Shaheen Reza, a tenant of Lalbagh area, said in case a recharge point failed to operate, users of that particular area would move to the neighbouring point, which would thus get overcrowded.

According to six power distributing utilities’ data, currently there are 1,584,454 prepaid electric meter users across the country.

DPDC supplying power to 11.7 lakh consumers installed 271,954 prepaid electric meters in Dhaka till July.

There are 85 vending stations including DPDC’s NOCS and 10 commercial banks from where prepaid electric meter users can recharge their smart card.

Dhaka Electric Supply Company so far has installed 1.5 lakh prepaid electric meters among its 8.7 lakh power consumers.

There are 40 points from where DESCO prepaid electric meter users can recharge smart card.

‘Additionally, prepaid meter users can pre-pay power tariff using DESCO apps and mobile transaction through Bkash, Gpay and Rocket,’ said DESCO managing director Shahid Sarwar, a retired brigadier general.

Bangladesh Power Development Board supplying power to 26 lakh consumers in Comilla, Chittagong, Mymensingh and Sylhet zones, has installed 10.5 lakh keypad pre-payment electric meters accepting currency-transacted power consumption.

BPDB’s prepaid metering project official has told New Age that prepaid electric meter users can recharge their smart card at 39 sales and distribution points across the four zones.

Besides, he says, they can take the service using mobile transaction facilitated by mobile operators Robi and Grameenphone.

BPDB has installed 30,000 prepaid electric meters in Bogra and Sirajganj, which are now operated under Northern Electric Supply Company’s jurisdiction.

NESCO supplying power to around 14 lakh consumers in Rangpur and Rajshahi zones will install five lakh prepaid electric meters soon, its managing director Zakiul Islam has told New Age.

West Zone Power Distribution Company has installed 70,000 prepaid electric meters among its 11 lakh consumers.

Currently, WZPDCO prepaid smartcard holders can pre-pay power tariff at 16 vending stations, including some commercial banks.

Observing that consumers are reluctant to take recharging services from bank booths, WZPDCO managing director Shafique Uddin says that the company will increase mobile transaction facilities for the prepaid electric meter users.

Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board supplies power to 11.5 lakh consumers under 80 REB associations across the country.

Of the consumers, only 62,500 consumers so far are using prepaid electric meters.

The prepaid electric meter users can purchase power through currency transfer facilities at 25 points, says a BREB official.

BREB chairman Moin Uddin, a retired major general, has told New Age that the number of recharge points will be increased soon following the growing demand of prepaid electric meter.

According to power, energy and mineral resources state minister Nasrul Hamid, the government has taken up a plan to bring all the power consumers under pre-payment metering coverage in phases.

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