Not tech-savvy: Iesco to teach staff on use of mobile phone cameras

Meter readers say they don’t know how to take record data; court tells DISCO to hear them out


Rizwan Shehzad July 09, 2015
Meter readers say they don’t know how to take record data; court tells DISCO to hear them out. PHOTO: fb.com/pages/IESCO-Islamabad-Electric-Supply-Company

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday gave the local power distributor 30 days to hear out the reservations of its meter readers regarding the use of technology.

With these directions, the court disposed of a petition filed by two Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) employees urging the bench to set aside an IESCO order directing them to use smart phones to record electricity meter readings.

Waseemul Haq and Qazi Inamur Rehman, both IESCO meter readers, had gone to court saying that the CEO and IESCO DG issued orders on changes in operational matters, and meter readers were given smart phones to record the readings on electricity meters.

They made the Wapda chairman, chief executive officer, secretary, and the IESCO director general respondents.

Justice Aamer Farooq disposed of the petition with directions to IESCO authorities to hear them in person and decide the issue within 30 days.

In their arguments, they said most meter readers are not tech-savvy as it is not a job requirement for them.

The reading system of the new digital meters is quit lengthy, difficult and risky, as it takes up to nine minutes to record one meter reading because of the rotation of data on the meter, they claimed, adding that it is also difficult to take pictures of meters in the day as the display is barely visible on smart phones.

Cheema said that it is also risky as valuable smart phones are regularly being snatched and the cost would be deducted from the salary of meter readers as there is no insurance policy in place.

Smart phones also cannot be used during the rain, hence the burden is again shifted upon the meter reader to complete work within the stipulated time, Cheema added.

No training is given to meter readers as most of them are unfamiliar with the modern day IT technology, the petition stated. They said, people often scuffle with meter readers after assuming that they were secretly taking pictures of their houses or relatives.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.

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