Electricity: Consumers Groan As DisCos Delay Tariff Hike Reversal
Against the backdrop of the suspension by the Federal Government of the recent electricity tariff hike, electricity consumers lamented on Wednesday the delay by the distribution companies in reverting to the old rates.
The Federal Government had, in a meeting with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress held on Sunday night till Monday morning, agreed to suspend the recent tariff hike approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for two weeks.
The parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising ministries, departments and agencies of government, NLC and TUC.
It would work for two weeks, effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy ‘in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout’.
NERC disclosed on Tuesday that it had issued an order to the Discos suspending the recent review in tariffs for 14 days, effective September 28, in line with the Federal Government’s agreement with labour unions.
It said during the suspension, all tariffs shall be computed on the rates applicable as of August 31.
But a number of consumers, who commented on NERC’s announcement of the tariff hike suspension, complained that they still bought electricity at the old tariffs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A Twitter user, Eleojo Emmanuel, said, “Hi @IkejaElectric, I bought units at 9am today (Sept. 30, 2020). I paid N5,000 and got 94.4 units. When do I get the balance of my units per this @NERCNG order?”
Another Twitter user, Prince Sola Olaniyi, said, “For a test on the update, I recharged N500 this morning, but I get hiked tariff.”
A copy of the receipt he posted showed that he got 7.46 kilowatts per hour, translating to N67 per KWh, from Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company.
Another consumer, Oyinkro Omukoro, said he bought electricity units worth N10,000 from Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company on Tuesday but got 169.80 units as against the over 320 units he would have got if the tariff hike was reversed.
Another Twitter user, with the handle @vller, in a message to Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, said, “Hello, AEDC, I bought power this morning 30/09/20 via @buypowerng but noticed that the unit received was half what I should get considering @NERCNG had already put a halt in tariff hike as at 29/09/20.
“Kindly give to me the exact unit that I should get based on the previous tariff.”
In its reply, Abuja Disco said it had received directives for a two-week suspension of the service reflective tariff from NERC.
It said, “This order will apply to tariff rates for electricity purchased from September 28 to October 11. However, our team is still working to adjust the rates accordingly.
“Customers who have vended on or after the said date, should please send in their details via direct message and we will escalate to the appropriate unit for resolution as soon as possible.”
Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, in a notice posted on its Twitter page on Wednesday, said it had fully complied with NERC’s directive on tariff hike suspension.
“Prepaid customers who purchase electricity tokens from today will therefore see the value of the old tariff reflected in their tokens while post-paid customers will also see the old tariff reflected on their next bill,” its Head, Corporate Communication, Mr Abdulazeez Abdullahi, said.
The President, Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Chijioke James, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, described the tariff hike as ill-timed.
He said, “The Discos have no option than to comply with the directive of the regulator. The two-week suspension is neither here nor there.
“The timing for the increase is not right at all. So, we are just asking that the status quo ante be maintained until a couple of issues are resolved and extensive consultation made with the consumers and all critical stakeholders.”
The Discos had early in September announced what they called ‘new service reflective tariff’, which took effect from September 1, with the tariffs being charged residential consumers receiving a minimum of 12 hours of power supply rising by over 70 per cent.