SOME stakeholders in the power sector have decried the proposal by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory commission (NERC) to increase electricity tariff by January.
They spoke in separate interviews with in Lagos. NERC had on November 20, 2014 said that consumers would pay more for electricity from January 1, 2015 when the new price of gas for generating power would take effect.
Mr Mohammed Bello, NERC Vice chairman, said that the price of gas, inflation, foreign exchange rate and power generation capacity were some of the factors considered before proposing the tariff review.
Alhaji Ganiyu Makanluola, the President, National Association of Electricity Consumers of Nigeria (NAECN), said that government should first address the fundamental issues of infrastructure, generation capacity and transmission. He said that the association and electricity consumers were totally against the proposed tariff increase.
According to him, it is wrong for NERC to have concluded plans to increase electricity tariff without first addressing the epileptic power situation in the country.
Makanjuola said that several complaints by consumers and the non-availability of prepaid metres should be tackled first by NERC before proposing tariff increase. “NERc should have first addressed the power situation by improving capacity before deciding to increase tariff.
“We are really concerned about the proposed tariff increase; consumers cannot just continue to pay for what they do not consume.
“Power should be made available first before NERC can think of tariff increase. we are concerned because any increase in tariff should match increased power supply,’ he said.
Makanjuola said the proposed tariff increase “is a mockery of the Federal Government’s avowed commitment to the welfare of the people”.
Mr Adekunle Makinde, the immediate past president, Nigerian Institution of Electrical Electronics Engineers (NIEEE), said that the upward review of electricity tariff might witness another round of protest by consumers across the country. “now that the government is compelling consumers to pay more, it may result in another round of protests.
“Consumers are already protesting against poor power supply in every area of Lagos and other parts of the country.
“So, why do you have to increase tariff when the supply is not regular.
“We are still in darkness and they want to make us pay more. It is really a shame. “If their argument is that it is part of reforming the power sector, then they should have first made the power available before asking the people to pay more.’’
Some electricity consumers in the Federal capital Territory (EFT) have also decried the upward review of electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory commission (NERC).
The commission’s chairman, Dr Sam Amadi said the review was expected to improve service delivery as distribution companies would implement their investment plans
He explained that the adjustment in methodology was for metering and strengthened
increased tariff on residential customers on R and R2, who would m ma electricity consumers in the next six months.
The consumers on the other hand, told t newsmen that there was no basis for the increase.
According to them, the power situation had not improved since the unbundling of the sector.
A civil servant, Mrs Carol Sule, said that she was not comfortable with the increase in electricity tariff as power supply had not been commensurate with the bills paid by consumers.
“Definitely, no consumer will be comfortable with the increase more so that electricity supply has not improved.
“The increase in the tariff is not the problem, but has electricity supply Improved, when 90 per cent of businesses in the country are being run with generators,’’ she said.
She noted that the power situation had deteriorated even with the purported privatisation of the sector for efficient delivery.
“Electricity supply in Nigeria has been steadily creeping and crawling; Nigerian consumers pay so much for the units of electricity they do not consume.’’ Sule said she now pays N12,000 as against N3,000 four years back on electricity consumed in her two-bedroom apartment.
Mr. Anthony Umonye, a civil servant, queried the rationale behind the review since electricity supply had yet to improve.
“The review of electricity tariff is inline with the power sector Act but is it really commensurate with service delivery,” he said.
According to Umonye, consumers will willingly pay the new rates if service delivery will improve with the increase in tariff.
Mr Sam Chukwu, an energy consultant, said that the regulator must ensure that distribution companies provided the necessary infrastructure in place before the upward review of electricity tariff.
“There is no stability in the supply of electricity; the regulator must mandate distribution companies to ensure that the needed infrastructure are in place to supply constant electricity,’’ he said.
Chukwu said the provision of infrastructure by distribution companies was a condition precedent for the review of electricity tariff in the country. Mr Abolade Fatai, an ICT consultant, said that the increase of electricity tariff without stable electricity supply was absurd.
“The system whereby you increase tariff on a service without providing that service is absurd,’’ he said.
WE Are Paying More For Darkness
But National Electricity Regulatory Commission is claiming that “by now, we should have been generating 15,000mw, based on the MYTO that was designed in 2008. But we are still generating below 4,000mw. So, it is an issue of quantity and price. If we had been able to achieve 15,000mw and you put everything in the basket, the average price, definitely would be low.
That is why we are doing a major review, because the target in terms of the quantity or the volume of power has not been attained. So, a major review is necessary based on very reasonable projections.”
But Nigerians are kicking against the proposed increase saying the electricity authorities have failed to make power supply available to Nigerians. Hence, the people opine the proposed hike cannot review be justified when majority of
Nigerians are living in darkness.
Sina Akinjide, a vulcanizer dismissed the idea saying, “It is unacceptable. It cannot be justified in a country where electricity is not available. I have been running my business on generator I am mandated to pay N750 every month for what I did not use and that is compulsory because I use a prepaid meter.
So, whether there is power supply or not, I must pay this sum and that is not the tariff. Now, they are adding more. This is wicked, ungodly, oppressive and unacceptable and we should resist it. We have been going through epileptic supply of power while others don’t have electricity at all despite paying their bill either through pre-paid meters or analogue meters.”
Some experts in the nation’s power sector are also frowning at the increase in electricity tariff on the grounds that it was not compatible with epileptic power supply nationwide. According to the immediate past president, Nigerian Institution of Electrical Electronics Engineers (NIEE), Adekunle Makinde,” consumers were being made to pay for unavailable and poor electricity services.
The consumers are not bothered or disturbed about the tariff if and when there is value for the money paid. But the problem now is that the services are not available and if consumers are being made to pay more for services that are not available, something is wrong somewhere. Even the regulators that are supposed to be protecting the interest of the consumers are not doing the very best of what they are supposed to be doing. The electricity supply being provided is not sufficient and now you want people to pay more. I think that is not good for consumers”.
Although the Director of NERC Dr Sam Amadi said residential buildings would not be affected immediately, consumers are vehement in their belief that the hike in tariff for whatever reason is anything but justifiable. “Power supply is deteriorating,” says Mrs. Josephine Danti, a landlady.
“It is not only unfair it is also an injustice to consumers who are being compelled to pay more for darkness. Though NERC announced that distribution companies will not increase tariff for residential consumers for six months, other customers would, however witness an increase in electricity bills. Under the present circumstances, that is not acceptable’
Engineer Ude, a former electricity worker said there has not been an improvement for years despite efforts being made. “There has been more hike in the electricity sector than in any other we hear about hike in tariff or service charge more in the power sector than any other sector and this is grossly unfair. It is ill conceived to increase tariff at a period when power supply output has dropped below 3,000 megawatts with adverse effects on business and economic activities.
Government should do the needful by shelving the new tariff in the interest of Nigerians who are always bearing the brunt of the ineptitude of power companies in a situation where government appears comfortable with offering excuses for its inefficiencies x than providing solutions.
‘Last year, there was a hike under the Multi-Year’ Tariff Order (MYTO), tariff regime, which was premised on the same reason without commensurate increase in power supply Consumers have not recovered from that. Why is there always this rush to hike the electricity tariff whenever the sector experiences a low? Is tariff hike the permanent solution to the problem because from records, the new tariff schedule shows consumers are paying higher on two fronts—the fixed cost and the cost per kilowatt of electricity which have both increased.”
Before the new hike, the power Minister Chinedu Nebo, revealed that as many as 120 million Nigerians are currently without electricity. This rubbishes the logic of hiking tariff as a precondition for investor participation. As it is, Nigerians appear to be keeping silent in the face of tyranny and have always complied with payment of new tariff come very often. But this is one hike too many. Bemoaning this development, Yomi Kolawole of Topean Energy Solution, expressed worry that many consumers affected by the current billing don’t not have prepaid meter.
“Majority of electricity consumers in the country are not given prepaid meter and the burden of new tariff will be on them. If every consumer has prepaid meters in their homes, offices and companies, there won’t be complaints from any quarters. Tariff increase at this point is very
Perhaps, the worst hit in the hike in tariff are artisans who depend solely on power supply for their businesses. A hairdresser Victoria Udeme said that last yuletide was hell for her hairdressing business. “Before, I used to complain about lack of customers but during the yuletide season, customers besieged my shop but epileptic power supply ruined matters for me. Customers were coming and some who couldn’t wait due to the frustration left. I operate a barbing salon here but epileptic power supply hindered all that.