…as Company Commissions 25 Innoson Vehicles

Drivers have a critical role to play in organisational performance, especially in service sectors like electricity supply, according to a leading power executive in the country.

Patrick Umeh, Managing Director of Aba Power, Nigeria’s newest electricity distribution company, told a gathering of the firm’s management and staff at the commissioning of 25 brand-new mini buses procured on a hire purchase basis from Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company in Nnewi, Anambra State, that drivers are vital in the company’s plans to improve its services in coverage area.

Aba Power provides electricity in nine of the 17 local government areas in Abia State, including the Aba industrial city and environs.

“We procured these brand new vehicles, despite the prevailing economic difficulties in the country, to enhance our effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery by responding to customers’ needs more promptly in every cranny in the Aba ring-fence area”, Umeh, a former commissioner in-charge of Markets, Market Rates and Competition at the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said.

“Drivers occupy pride of place in the power supply chain because without them you can’t attend effectively to customer’ complaints like faults in the distribution transformers, wires, cables, feeder pillars and other power distribution infrastructure”.

Umeh, also a former executive with the Los Angeles Water and Power company in California, United States, remarked that without dedicated drivers key technical staff like engineers and technicians would not be able to report for duty early, nor would they get home early enough to prepare well for work the next day.

He, therefore, appealed to organisations to pay their drivers reasonably and also treat them with dignity, saying that the competitive salary paid by Aba Power and general staff service conditions have made it able to attract and retain well-educated persons as drivers.

He cited the example of Nonso Umunnakwe who trained in Italy and Spain and has now joined Aba Power DisCo. Canice Emeka, the Aba Power Chief Operating Officer, and Blessing Ogbe, the Chief Commercial Officer, agreed with Umeh, describing drivers as “ambassadors of various organisations” and “the face of companies”.

Emeka and Ogbe, who are both engineers, noted that how drivers carry out their duties not only impacts on the company’s effectiveness but also its reputation.

“If you violate traffic rules and abuse other road users”, declared Emeka, “it will reflect negatively on our corporate image because every vehicle is branded with the Aba Power colours and logo and name”.

To ensure that drivers behave in conformity with their corporate requirements, according to Ade Adeniyi, the Aba DisCo Facilities and Fleet maintenance team leader, “every driver on duty must wear his name tag, in addition to company uniforms “How you look and behave both within the organisation and outside are of utmost importance to us”.

The Ukwa Feeder manager, Engineer Kenneth Elechi, advised the drivers to always display team spirit at work.

“You may be the one to save a technician who is being electrocuted or being attacked by those who don’t want to pay their bills”, he noted.

“It is imperative you become your brother’s keeper”.

Professor Bart Nnaji, the founder and chairman of the Geometric Power group, disclosed that more vehicles would arrive soon, thanking the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd chairman, Chief Innoson Chukwuma, for providing 81 vehicles on credit due to his faith in Aba Power.

“Instead of going for second-hand vehicles which are cheaper, as many firms do in order to cut costs in response to the harsh operating economic environment”, explained Professor Nnaji, a former Minister of Power, “we opted for brand new ones from Innoson vehicles because they are designed for Nigerian roads that are often not in great shape.

“The vehicles from Innoson have a higher suspension and their engines are of 1.5 litre capacity, unlike the imported second-hand ones which have 1.00 litre capacity engines.

“Besides, Innoson vehicles are bigger and can conveniently accommodate seven passengers, including the driver.

“The safety and comfort of drivers and other staff members are an important consideration in settling for these vehicles”

The former minister also lauded Innoson vehicles for being competitive as regards the design, aesthetics, comfort, technical quality, and cost-effectiveness.

Responding on behalf of the drivers, Sam Ndukwe Kalu, pledged to abide by all traffic regulations and so enhance the company’s integrity, commending Nnaji for his personal credibility which, he said, made it possible for a large number of vehicles to be provided the company on credit.

He also pledged to maintain the vehicles professionally, noting that “vehicles hardly break down without first warning their driver.

“We will always report when a vehicle is due for maintenance and report every fault promptly.

“It is in our interest to maintain these vehicles well always because it will mean continued salary payment before month-end and timely promotions for the staff”.

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