Electricity consumers on Wednesday kicked against the government’s plans to increase tariffs and demanded that the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babtunde Fashola, should listen to their own side of the story before approving any increase in the rates.
Speaking under the aegis of the Consumer Advocacy Forum inaugurated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the consumers argued that the power distribution companies must first meter their customers before tariffs could be increased.
The Chairman, National Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network, Mr. Tomy Akingbogun, told our correspondent that the minister might have fallen for the tricks of the Discos by accepting to raise tariffs.
He said, “The very important point, which the minister must know, is that the Discos have to meter consumers first as contained in the terms and conditions given to them when they acquired the assets. As it stands presently, they have only been able to meter about 40 per cent of their customers and that is why they complain that they are not making profits.
“How do you expect a Disco to make profit on 40 per cent metering? And by saying power tariffs will increase, it means the minister has been taken by their tricks. But the first and important thing is for them to meter all consumers and then the profit will rise.
“They were given two years to meter everyone but up till now, they have not done that and we see this as a deliberate act. Now, they are using the figures from 30 or 40 per cent of those that are metered and are saying that they are not making profits. This is wrong. We will not support any increase in tariff because it is not justifiable and the minister must know this.”
Akingbogun said the increase in tariffs that was effected earlier this year should be reversed, adding that consumers would protest against any hike in the rates again.
He said, “If they had metered everyone by now, there will be no need for fixed charges for we are in the third year since the power companies were sold to the Discos. So, we are saying that there should be no increment in electricity tariffs and even the one done in January or February should be reversed.”