Blackout: Consumers Protest PHCN Tariff Hike

LAGOS AUGUST 29TH (NEWSRANGERS)-Different groups representing power consumers across the country have declared that the recently approved increase in electricity tariff will not stand until there is considerable improvement in power supply.
On August 22, 2019, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, approved an increase in the tariff payable by power consumers across the country.
Findings by our correspondent from various documents obtained from the NERC showed that from next year, consumers will have to pay an additional sum of between N8 and N14 for every kilowatt-hour of energy.
This, however, was opposed by the two major consumer groups in the power sector, as they faulted the move by government.
They also condemned the NERC for not carrying out proper consultations with stakeholders before it went ahead to publicise the adjusted tariffs on its website.
The Nigeria Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network and the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria wondered why the regulator would increase tariff at a time when power delivery was still poor.
In separate interviews with our correspondent, the Chairman, NECAN, Mr Tomi Akingbogun, and the President, ECAN, Mr Chijioke James, stated that it would be unfair for consumers to pay higher tariffs when service delivery by power distributors had yet to improve.
James said, “The commission did not consult with us. There is a framework for price review and it entails the process of consultations with those you intend to serve and your potential clients.
“The Nigerian consumers are not very difficult people and so we need to know why you (NERC) will want to increase tariff when the services are not really there. That cannot be tolerated.”
The ECAN president noted that the commission would be increasing the financial burden of the poor masses, as the incomes of most of them would not sustain such hike tariff.
James said, “You don’t increase the tariffs of people whose incomes cannot sustain the payment of your new tariffs. So there must be some mechanism to accommodate low income earners. However, the fact is that as far as there is no reliable power, there will be no tariff increase.”
On his part, Akingbogun stated that consumers were not carried along by the regulator, as required in the standard practice before the announcement of new tariffs.
He said, “The first thing I’ll say is that consultation was not properly done before the announcement and for us, the details are just rolling out bit by bit.
“We first got to know about it by reading it in the newspaper and one thing for sure is that consultation with the private sector was not properly done.”
Akingbogun added, “This is not going down well with consumers because power supply generally in Nigeria has not recorded the desired improvement. So I wonder how it will be seamless for consumers to comply with the tariff increase.”
An analysis of documents on the increase in power tariffs showed that all the 11 power distribution companies had an upward review in the amount to be paid as from 2020.
This implies that power users, particularly those in the residential R2 class which make up more than 80 per cent of consumers, will pay additional amount for electricity from next year.
Many consumers are not happy with the development and want the government to reconsider its position on the matter.

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