As consultations by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) over the recent increase in electricity tariff continued on Monday, consumers are pushing back and are asking for assurances on improved services.
ExpressDay recalls that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had in January announced a review of the tariff across the 11 DisCos with effect from April 1.
But following consumers outcry, the commission ordered the DisCos to hold public consultations with the stakeholders to justify the need for the tariff increase.
Speaking in Owerri, the Imo State capital, during the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), consultation on the extraordinary review of the multi-year tariff order, the consumers who were dissatisfied with the services provided by the company argued against the hike.
A customer, Dr Cajetan Ohiri kicked against the increase and urged EEDC to find other ways of improving its revenue.
He noted that the present economic reality in the country made the planned hike unacceptable to electricity consumers.
Earlier, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Okey Nwosu, had called on electricity consumers in Imo to support the company’s proposed hike in tariff, stressing that the power sector can only improve its services through more revenue.
Nwosu said that EEDC inherited liabilities when it took over power supply in the southeast in 2013 and that the commission would need improved funding for better service delivery.
The company’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr Vincent Ekwuekwu, who commended electricity consumers for their understanding, pledged improved services by the company.
In Ibadan, consumers demanded for mechanisms to hold the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) accountable, should electricity tariff be eventually increased.
The consumers were unanimous in their demand, while speaking at an extraordinary meeting on tariff review, organised by IBEDC in Ibadan on Monday.
Mr Obaro Ikime, a consumer, said the IBEDC needs to devise means by which consumers can hold the company accountable and demand for quality service, should tariff increases.
He said that the company also needed to work assiduously to reduce vandalism of electricity facilities, for better services.
Also, Mr Shadrach Akinbodunse of Utility Consumers’ Rights, said as long as the regulatory body was being paid from the consumers’ money, it might be difficult to for it be a good umpire.
He noted that should the tariff be increased eventually, the company needed to guarantee that there would be better services for consumers.
Earlier, in his presentation, Mr Deolu Ijose, the Chief Communications Officer, IBEDC, said the upward review of tariff was necessitated by the increase in exchange rate and inflation, among other factors militating against the development of the energy sector in Nigeria.
He stated that energy availability would move from an average of 14 hours daily to between 18 and 20 hours, if more facilities and infrastructure were put in place.
Ijose further said that electricity supply had ceased to be a social service since the sector became privatised in 2013, urging Nigerians to have the positive attitudes needed to move the sector forward.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of IBEDC, Engr. John Ayodele, said that the increase in tariff would benefit the industry in no small measure.
He noted that the present revenue cannot sustain the business any longer because of the losses that had continued to accumulate.
“It takes a lot of guts for investors to continue to do the disco business. As of now, IBEDC is owing N190 billion to the market. All the shareholders’ money had been eroded and part of the reasons is the loss. Other factors are energy theft, bypassing and outright stealing of electricity in different ways,” Ayodele said.