Electricity consumers warn DisCo to shun tariff hike plans

* No need for tariff increase –Stakeholders

* Threaten mass protest if company goes ahead with plans

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As opposition to Nigeria’s 11 electricity Distribution Companies’ (DisCos) proposed power tariff increase with effect from April 1, 2020, mounts in recent times, a cross-section of electricity stakeholders, including consumers, marketers, non-governmental organisations, social groups, community representatives from some South-West states  have warned the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) to shelve its proposed plan of increasing power tariffs or face forceful rejection of the plans.

The stakeholders who vent their anger and displeasure Friday, February 28, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, at the company made their remarks during a public hearing on the proposed electricity tariff hike by the DisCo.

ConsumerConnect learnt that the distribution company had applied to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for an upward review of tariff, which made NERC to invite electricity consumers within the coverage areas of the IBEDC to a public hearing at Jogor Centre, Ibadan.

Report says IBEDC, on the occasion, had presented reasons for a possible review of its tariffs to the stakeholders in the region, but such explanations seemed untenable convincing enough to attract the cooperation of the consumers.

Commissioner Musiliu Olalekan Oseni, Chairman of the panel of NERC, in his welcome address, had explained to the stakeholders the importance of collating their input before reaching a final decision on the proposed tariff hike.

Incidentally, Oseni had hardly finished his welcome address when consumers started presenting their complaints about the unsatisfactory performance of IBEDC in the distribution of energy over time.

Virtually all the statistics Mr. Deolu Ijose reeled out on behalf of the electricity company were reportedly questioned by the consumers, a situation which led to some heated argument among the electricity consumers in attendance.

Though IBEDC outlined its numerous of problems in the course of offering optimal service to power consumers, the company’s justification that unless tariffs are jacked up,  it would not be able to perform as expected, was pooh-poohed by the consumers.

According to Ijose, the challenges in the sector include the purchase of energy which was pegged at N9.7 since 2015; loss of N38.9billion in 2019; need to repay loan borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria; shortfall in collection of tariffs running into N81billion; and stealing of energy among others.

He then, proposed that a new tariff of over N31 would be charged when the implementation begins April 1.

Mr. Ololade Hamzat Adebimpe from Oyo Parapo, in his comment on IBEDC’s proposal, argued there was no need for tariff increase, but that the IBEDC should ensure supply of prepayment meters and block all loopholes through which some of its staff plunder the funds meant for the company.

Other speakers such as Abiodun Bamigboye, a human rights activist; Adebayo Adegbite from Initiative for Sustainable Infrastructure Development;  and Alhaji Yusuf Adebayo from Monatan, all concluded that there was no need for tariff increase.

Report further indicated that all the stakeholders in their remarks maintained if the service is improved, the people will not have issues paying, while faulting the company’s perceived lack of readiness to make prepayment meters available for electricity consumers seeking to acquire them.

The consumers as well accused the NERC of not doing enough to protect the interest of consumers with the huge volume of their complaints with the regulatory agency, purportedly leaving the consumers in the dark over the years.

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