Nigerians Flay Increase in Power Tariff

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Ayuba Wabba

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Nigerian workers union and civil society groups have criticised the new electricity tariff in the country, describing it as illegal and unfair

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 15, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |

MANY Nigerians including civil society groups have flayed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, for introducing the new electricity tariff which commenced on February 1. The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and civil society organisations have described the decision by the NERC to increase electricity tariff as illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a means to exploit Nigerians.

In a communiqué released in Abuja, the groups said the increase could not be justified as there had not been any significant improvement in service delivery and most consumers do not have meters. The communiqué was jointly signed by Ayuba Wabba, NLC president; Bobboi Kaigama, president TUC; Adeola Samuel-Ilori, co-ordinator, electricity consumer protection forum; Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi, a human rights activist, and Chinedu Bosah, publicity secretary, Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights.

Addressing journalists shortly after its national executive council meeting, the groups said the tariff increase was contrary to the agreement reached with the federal government during the privatisation of the electricity companies. The unions said the agreement, as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed on November 1, 2013, stated that all customers must be metered within an 18-month gestation period before any tariff increase.

In addition, the groups said that there was a subsisting court case dated May 28, 2015, before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC, in which the latter had been barred from increasing electricity tariff pending the determination of the suit. Kaigama alleged that the government did not follow due process in effecting the increase.

But the NERC has said that the revenue from the new tariff would enable the power distribution, generation and transmission companies to acquire needed infrastructure. Anthony Akah, acting chairman, NERC, who stated this when he led top executives of the regulatory agency on a courtesy call on the National Orientation Agency in Abuja, said lack of cost-reflective tariffs had hindered the electricity companies from acquiring the necessary infrastructure, adding that with the new tariffs, they would not have any excuse for not delivering on agreements they entered into with the government.

He said the Nigerian power sector reform must provide an appropriate pricing template, which had been lacking, leading to deficiency in revenues from power. This, he added, necessitated the new Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO, to enable the generating, transmission and distribution companies to provide the needed infrastructure for higher generation and supply of electricity to meet the needs of consumers.

Akah said under the new MYTO, all premises must be metered and consumers who subscribe to specific metering models must be supplied meters within 60 days after which they would not be disconnected or charged on estimation if a meter was not supplied.

He also said that a Power Consumer Assistance Fund had been put in place to cater for the electricity needs of the less-privileged in the country, adding that the visit was part of the establishment of a coordinated approach to creating public awareness ahead of the February 1, implementation date of the new MYTO.

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