The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) and the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) often fail to meet electricity and water supply standards, according to the Lesotho Electricity Water Authority (LEWA).
Established through the Lesotho Electricity Authority (LEA) Act No.12 of 2002 as amended, LEWA independently deals with matters such as electricity pricing, complaints handling, and resolution.
It also supervises the implementation of the Quality of Service and Supply Standards (QOSSS) by its licensees.
It recently held a workshop to sensitize journalists about the tariff review process.
It was during this workshop that LEWAâ€™s legal officer, advocate Sesoai Sesoai, disclosed that the two utilities LEC â€“ in the electricity sector, and WASCO â€“ in the water and sewerage sector, often fail to carry out their operations within the standards as agreed with the authority.
Sesoai said that the authority regularly communicates with the licensees to tell them whether their services meet set regulations or not.
â€œWe do not only give feedback to licensees but to our board also to be in the light of what is happening. We do not end there but we also require LEC and WASCO to improve their services,â€ he said.
He indicated that it was the responsibility of the authority to ensure that the two companies provide quality services to their customers.
The standards set the technically acceptable operating limits of both the magnitude and frequency of the supply voltage and set operating limits for voltage regulation, unbalance, flickers, and harmonics as well as frequency regulation.
They also address issues such as time frames for the provision of customer services requests such as quotations and supply, faults handling, electricity account queries, and complaints.
The water and sewerage services sub-sector quality of service standards address issues about minimum service levels on issues such as time for making water and sewer connections, the procedure for disconnections, meter readings, and others.
The standards detail measures the licensees have to take to ensure that customers get quality service.
The public relations manager of WASCO, Lineo Moqasa, said the company was working tirelessly to ensure that it meets the set regulatory standards working in conjunction with LEWA.
Moqasa, however, mentioned that there were several challenges the company was faced with which include non-payment of bills by customers, illegal connections, and inaccessible metres (closed in the yards).
She said that faced with this myriad of challenges, it could not be said that WASCO was failing to meet the set standards unless the challenges were dealt with.
â€œStrategies have been put in place to address the challenges, but this is a process,â€ she said.
Lebohang Mohasoa together with Limpho Mokhesi from LEC said they would not comment on the issue unless LEWA clearly stated the standards which it said LEC did not meet.
â€œThere are many standards set and LEC reports on each standard to LEWA with the reports prepared in different departments of LEC,â€ Mohasoa and Mokhesi said.
LEC was established in 2006 in terms of the LEC (Pty) Ltd Establishing and Vesting Act 2006. It was registered as a company in terms of the Companies Act of 1967 (as amended) and is wholly owned by the government.
It was subsequently issued with a Composite License in terms of Section 50 of the Lesotho Electricity Authority Act of 2002, to transmit, distribute and supply electricity.
Previously as a corporation, LEC was established in 1969 in terms of the Electricity Act of 1967 and the Electricity Regulations of 1970.
WASCO, on the other hand, was established under the Water and Sewerage Company (Propriety) Limited (Establishment and Vesting) Act No. 13 of 2010.
It replaced the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) which was established by the WASA Order No. 19 of 1992.
Speaking at the same training, LEWAâ€™s consumer affairs and communications manager, Teboho Senthebane, said journalists should appreciate the mandate of LEWA to effectively disseminate proper information to the consumers.
Senthebane said the authority aspired to be proactive and engage the media in advance hence it held a workshop for journalists.
She said there were currently six entities regulated by LEWA.
LEWAâ€™s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Motlatsi Ramafole, said the journalists should critique the authority from an informed position.
Ramafole said in a tariff review process, key elements considered by the authority were affordability and sustainability.
He indicated that the authority assessed whether the consumers would be able to afford the price of the commodity.
They also take into consideration whether the utility would be able to sustain itself in the long run.