by Fabian Hakalits – EM TV, Port Moresby
PNG Power Limited (PPL) has charged seven customers in Port Moresby for illegally stealing power.
PNG Power Limited Investigation and Protective Service Group, with police assistance, began their patrol in Port Moresby city suburbs to stop illegal connections and charge people stealing power.
These seven customers could be forced to pay up to K5,000 or face criminal charges.
Six customers at Moitaka area, including an occupant of the abandoned Morata Primary School and trade stores were disconnected.
The person occupying Morata Primary School was confirmed to have been stealing power since 1998.
He removed credit meters supplying power to two classroom blocks and bypassed connections, supplying free power to his tenants who were renting classroom blocks for accommodation.
At one classroom block, the credit meter was modified and bypassed with free power supplied to tenants.
Power supply to these two classroom blocks was disconnected and service lines removed.
It was also found Kona Kit Distributor trade store at Moitaka was stealing power for the second time.
During the proclamation of the State of Emergency on electricity in January 2015, this store was identified for stealing power and was disconnected.
However, the Kit Distributor owner illegally reconnected the power supply again and bypassed the new Easipay meter that was installed.
The investigation team also found this new Easipay meter was not registered in the system and confirmed that it was done by a PPL employee.
Further investigations will be done to identify the PPL employee who installed this Easipay meter without authorisation and bypassed it for free power supply to the store.
Just a few meters away, a popular liquor shop was also caught stealing power by damaging the Easipay meter.
The illegal bypass and connections also posed a risk of electrocution, therefore linesmen disconnected supply and removed the service line.
A customer at the Hanuabada village was also identified for stealing power since 2013 and their power supply was also disconnected.
Records in the system show the last cash payment was in December 2013, since then no more payments were made.
During the SOE from January to March 2015, customers stealing power were given time to own up to their actions and voluntarily go to PPL offices and pay for power theft.
Thousands of customers responded, however a few continued stealing power.
The customers at Moitaka and Hanuabada were told to go to PPL national office next week where they will be disciplined and charged.
Each customer is expected to be charged K3,000 for meter bypassing, new connections and investigation fees.
Separate charges will also apply for the period power was stolen, with payments expected to exceed K5,000.
Stealing power is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code and customers stealing power have been warned to stop doing it.