Labour union, MAN, others kick against electricity tariff hike
Nigerians from all walks of life, from labour union to manufacturing associations are kicking against the latest hike in Electricity tariff, which came to effect from September 1.
Some power distribution companies across the country started the implementation of the new tariff on Tuesday, effectively pushing up the cost of electricity consumption in the country.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has vowed to resist the increase as it considered the hike in tariff as a way to further impoverish Nigerians.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) also said the hike could precipitate recession in the third quarter of the year, while the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed their displeasure with the new rate.
The NLC, in its position on the issue, said that the implementation of the new tariff on Tuesday was despite the resolution of the Senate and the direct orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, that the decision by the electricity distribution companies on tariff should be suspended until further notice.
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Discos had said that the new service reflective tariff took effect from September 1.
For instance, the spokesman for the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in a statement said the company has started implementing new Service Reflective Tariff Plan (SRT) across its franchise area from Sept. 1.
Oyebode Fadipe said the SRT plan is a Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) mandated tariff structure, whereby an upward increment in tariffs will result in substantially longer hours of power supply.
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He said that the tariff structure would also result in good quality voltage profile, swifter response to faults clearing and provision of pre-paid meters.
The Discos said on Tuesday that electricity customers, except those receiving less than 12 hours of supply, would have to pay more.
With the review, the tariffs being charged residential consumers receiving a minimum of 12 hours of power supply has increased by over 70 percent.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the move would be resisted and cautioned the DISCOs against going ahead with the implementation of the new electricity tariff.
He stated this in a statement on Tuesday titled ‘Increase in electricity tariff by Abuja DISCO – A taunting of the will of the Nigerian people gone too far’.
Wabba said, “The DISCOs appear to have given themselves the ignoble tasks of taunting and testing the will of the Nigerian people.
“Abuja DISCO has adorned the robe of the protagonist with its recent announcement of a new tariff plan for electricity consumers within the sphere of its service area.
“This move is despite the resolution of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and even the direct orders of Mr President himself that the plans by DISCOs to hike electricity tariff should be suspended until further notice.
“We are not aware of any order by the government or the elected representatives of the Nigerian people de-freezing the order to suspend any plans to inflict more pocket and psychological trauma on Nigerians by way of reckless and insensitive hike in electricity tariff.”
The union pointed out that since the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, electricity tariffs through the Multi-Year Tariff Order had been increased a number of times without accompanying improvement in services.
“Each hike in electricity tariff in Nigeria is trailed by huge leap in the hours of darkness, de-metering of more Nigerians, exponential rise in incidences of estimated billing, and increased burden on citizens for the procurement of equipment and facilities for public electricity supply amidst other devious methods by DISCOs to cheat, exploit and despoil poor Nigerians,” Wabba said.
The NLC boss said it totally rejected any plan to inflict further pain on Nigerians “at this very time of great economic distress,” insisting that “the new dribble by the Abuja DISCO is dead on arrival as it will be resisted by the Nigerian working class and people.”
It warned other DISCOs not to bother “putting their ships of exploitation to sail.”
The congress equally expressed concern on the “deaf and dumb posture” of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.
“It is important to put it on record that NERC would be putting its name on the wrong side of history if it continues to play the Ostrich while a group of portfolio investors make a blood meal of Nigerians.
“Nigerian electricity consumers need the NERC to speak up and act in the defense of the rights of the Nigerian people,” the NLC said.
“Following consultations and directions on tariff policy, the Commission hereby approves a deferment of the applicable tariffs for customers in service bands D and E (that is customers with a service commitment of less than an average of 12 hours supply per day over a period of one month) for the period September 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021,” NERC said.
It said the Discos would only be allowed to charge those customers the new tariffs upon investments that improve the quality of service experience, “thus migrating customers to higher service bands or another order of the commission.”
According to NERC and the Discos, the new tariff is based on the hours of electricity supply available to the customers.