Consumers fumes over silent increase in electricity tariff amidst fuel scarcity

Electricity consumers on Thursday kicked against the silent increase in the tariff payable by customers to power distribution companies for electricity consumed.

They said it was worrisome that the government was allowing Discos to raise electricity tariff amid fuel scarcity across the country.

Adulterate fuel imported into country about two weeks ago had led to fuel scarcity and long queues in filling stations in states.

It was gathered that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had adjusted the tariffs payable to Discos, as some of the power firms got a raise in their tariffs, while others had theirs reduced.

This, however, was not announced or published or the website of the regulator as it used to publish it in the past.

The President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kola Olubiyo, told our correspondent that his group took up the matter with the regulator last week.

He stated that while some customers said their tariffs were increased by N4, others could not actually tell the amount by which theirs were raised, adding that there had been no public confirmation by the NERC.

He said, “They (NERC) raised it last week or there about, and is like it is a N4 adjustment. Port Harcourt and Abuja (Discos) raised it and in fact, I think it is across board.

“But what we are asking the regulator is that if they approved something that is going to affect our pocket without letting us know, it is like shaving our heads in our absence.

“They said labour was part of them and I said is that what labour went to negotiate for us? I was told that they have a structured table that has already been approved and it is just for them to implement.”

Olubiyo added, “But if they have approved the table as they said, are they giving us the required services? You and I know that services have not improved. We are having low generation and all manner of blame games.”

The legal practitioner and NCPN president insisted that the regulator should provide a table on the increase as it used to publish in the past, stressing that consumers had the right to know.

He said, “They should let us have the table that shows the bit-by-bit increment. We should have it. They are not communicating with the public.

“If they are taking a decision that will affect our disposable income, are we not supposed to be in the know? If you raise it they will argue that are we not aware that things are increasing everyday. Is that the way we are going to work?”

Confirming the increase, a power user in Abuja, said, “It seems the Discos have increased their tariffs again without public notice. I recharged N5,000 today but was given 91.7 units instead of the usual 107.”

Also, an official at the Federal Ministry of Power stated that the increase had to be implemented because the Federal Government had withdrawn some of its financial support to power firms.

“The Federal Government has to withdraw every support or most of its support to power firms, such as subsidy on electricity,” the source, who pleaded not to be named for lack of authorisation, stated.

The official added, “So in a way there is adjustment in tariff because they (power firms) are shouldering higher cost responsibility now. However, some of them actually have reductions in their tariffs and nobody is talking is about it.”

On whether there was any official adjustment in tariff, the source replied, “They (Discos) have been communicated more than a month ago, since January or so.”

Efforts to get the NERC to speak on the matter were unsuccessful, as its spokesperson, Usman Arabi, could not be reached on Thursday evening. A text message sent to him on the matter had yet to be replied to up till when this report was filed in.

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