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Consumers call for reversal of electricity tariff hike

Electricity meters

Electricity meters

 

Some NGOs and electricity consumers on Wednesday kicked against the increase in electricity tariff implemented by the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) on Sept. 1, and appealed to government to reverse the plan.

The consumers spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Mr Demeji Macaulay, the Director, Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA), said “the association condemns the recent hike in electricity tariff in strongest terms and demands its immediate reversal.”

Macaulay condemned the move to increase tariff in spite of the resolution of the senate and direct orders by President Muhammadu Buhari to shelve the plans by the DISCOs to hike electricity tariff “until all consumers are metered”.

“This increment policy direction will not guarantee affordable tariff and stable power supply for the vast majority.

“It is only massive public investment in the power sector combined with the nationalisation of the electricity sector and other commanding heights of the economy that can guarantee affordable and uninterrupted electricity,” he said.

Mr Jude Chukwuma, a welder in Lugbe, Abuja said that it would be difficult to ascertain the people receiving less than 12 hours power supply as stated in the tariff.

“How will DISCOs know people receiving less than 12 hours of light, all we want is for government to assist us to reverse the increase in tariff as we are still battling with our losses due to the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Mrs Ebere Akue, a stylist also at Lugbe said that the increase would affect her business, adding that power was not constant as she had to buy fuel for generator.

“This increase is not good for our business since COVID-19 period, businesses are slow,” she said.

Mr Kunle Olubiyo, the President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network said that on behalf of electricity consumers, the association had been engaging the Federal Government on the impact of the electricity tariffs on the poor and vulnerable people.

Olubiyo said that the association had received assurances from the highest level of government that the present tariffs adjustment would increase raise the bar of minimum remittance to be made by the DISCOs.

“And as the names implied, the service reflective tariffs broken down into different bands, segments is not targeted at the poor and at the same time it is more or less designed  technically speaking to serve as “Cross Subsidies”.

Cross–subsidies involves a group of consumers paying more than the general cost of supply and the surplus is used to subsidise the provision to the other group at a price that is lower than the cost of supply to the subsidised group.

“Taking the subsidies to be realised from the profits of the rich and those with big pockets, the bulk users of electricity.

“The large scale industries and multinational conglomerate to cross subsidised the rural end users of electricity, the urban poor amongst others,” he said.

NAN reports that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Aug. 27 disclosed that electricity tariff reviews, going forward will only follow service-based principles.

Under these principles, Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) will only be able to review tariff rates for customers when they consult with them and commit to increasing the number of hours of supply per day and quality of service.

NERC stated that in line with these expectations, DISCOs had been directed to engage with their customers on a Serviced Based Tariff structure, where DISCOs could only review tariffs for customers.

Going further, NERC says there will be no tariff change for the most vulnerable as tariffs for those consuming 50KW or less remain frozen.

Also, customers receiving less than 12 hours of power supply are expected not to experience any change in tariffs. (NAN)

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