(The Association of Disgruntled Consumers is protesting the decision by Escom to subject consumers to long hours of torture on queues again because of its prepaid service)
Court Clerk: All rise! His Lordship Mbadwa’s court is now in session!
Judge Mbadwa: I would like to invite Mr Jonah Kapita of the Association of Disgruntled Consumers to address the court. Mr Kapita believes Escom is torturing consumers with its prepaid service. Can you convince the court why the association feels the court should summon the board of Escom and its management for inhumane tendencies towards consumers over its prepaid service?
Jonah Kapita: My Lord, I wanted to applaud Escom for listening to the concerns of consumers over inflated post-paid bills. We have been querying their extremely unjustified utility postpaid bills for decades now and the extension of the prepaid service was perceived as a solution. But alas! It appears the organisation has just transferred its inefficiencies to the much-lauded pre-paid service perhaps to show that they can force us to dance to their sad tunes.
Why am I saying that they want us to shake our bodies to their dirges? These people extended the prepaid service without making their pre-paid units available in all locations. My Lord, don’t believe the lie about the service being available on mobile phone platforms as a solution and that the platforms have not been working efficiently lately as if they ever do.
Why should people be queuing in service stations, selected shops and Escom offices to buy units when they should have opened more outlets or even make the units available in every township market or shop? Why do service providers like to create queues for someone to access a service? We queue to buy maize and flour, to pay water bills, to renew passports or drivers’ licence, to get treatment in a public hospital or even to buy bread.
My Lord, the consumers’ health is being compromised by hours of long standing at a service centre shop, waiting for a turn to buy electricity units. The spectacle being created in such places is also ugly and has the potential of scaring would-be investors in Malawi. Shop owners are also losing business because their shops are only filled with ‘units buyers’. We feel this is a systematic attack on consumers by Escom; hence, a crime against humanity. Are the queues the different way of punishing consumers for protesting blackouts and inflated bills? I rest my case My Lord.
Mbadwa: It appears Escom was not prepared for the chaos that the extended pre-paid service without a supporting service system has brought. Somebody somewhere did not do their job. The entity promised to come up with a solution on network problems which are being experienced even on mobile platforms, but they have not done so. And to cause people to struggle to get electricity units when blackouts continue to reign supreme is being inconsiderate.
I hereby order that Escom put in place mechanisms to ensure that people are not queuing for units hours on end. Failing which the board members and management will be subjected to a two-hour of removing debris with hands at Nkula Power Station. n