1st March, 2011
The Consumer Protection Council, CPC, and several electricity consumers in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, have condemned the plan by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to increase electricity tariff in April this year without first addressing the epileptic power supply in the country.
An official of CPC, Mrs. Adeyinka and several aggrieved electricity consumers unanimously condemned the proposed increase at a special forum on power organised recently by the Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigeria, CAFON.
Speaking at the forum, Mrs. Adeyinka said it was wrong for NERC to have concluded plans to increase electricity tariff without first addressing the epileptic power situation and several recurring consumer complaints such as estimated billing and non-availability of prepaid metres.
According to Mrs. Adeyinka, NERC should have first addressed the power situationÂ by improving capacity before deciding to increase tariff.
She said: â€œWhile we appreciate the current reforms in the power sector by NERC, we are really concerned about the proposed tariff increase. Consumers cannot just continue to pay for what they donâ€™t consume.
â€œPower should be made available first before NERC thinks of tariff increase. We are concerned about this issue because any increase in tariff should be matched with increased power supply.
â€œNERC seems to be missing the issue here. Consumers are complaining about over-billing. Many have paid for prepaid meters for years and they have not been supplied by PHCN. Instead of addressing that issue, PHCN put such consumers on high estimated bills.
“It is just not fair. These areÂ issues that NERC should look into. Let the prepaid meter be made available and power supply increased before we hear anything about tariff increase.â€
She, however, advised electricity consumers to be more responsible in the way they use the available power as misuse and overuse are part of the problems why PHCN is where it is today.
â€œWhile we insist that PHCN is not providing enough power and as such, NERC should not charge us more, we must be more responsible in the way we use the available power. If we learn to conserve power by putting off those appliances that are not in use, I think that will go a long way in the effective distribution of the available power.â€
The chairman of electricity consumers in Surulere said the proposed tariff increase is a mockery of the Federal Government’s avowed commitment to the welfare of the people as the plan is another effort to further compound the woes of the masses.
â€œHow can they be planning to increase tariff at this point in time when there is no electricity? We are still in darkness and they want to make us pay more. It is really a shame. If their argument is that it is part of reforming the power sector, then they should have first made the power available before asking the people to pay more.â€
He used the occasion to call on NERC to prevail on PHCN, Eko distribution zone to improve the epileptic power situation to the area, as the situation has gone from bad to worst.
Another consumer, Mike Adeku who complained that PHCN has not supplied the prepaid meter he paid for four years ago, called on Nigerians to come out en masse to protest against the proposed tariff increase.
â€œI call on Nigerians to take to the streets to protest against this plan by NERC. They have not told us how they will improve electricity supply this yearÂ but they find it important to prepare our minds for a tariff increase.
“How can we be made to pay for what is not available. Nigerians must move against this plan before it is too late,â€ he said.
Responding to some of the complaints by participants at the forum, the Customer Relations Manager of PHCN, Ikeja Distribution Zone, Engr. Bukola Oshiberu, while admitting that PHCN may not have lived up to expectations, said consumers should be more responsible in the way they consume electricity.
According to him, if more consumers adopt the right attitude to consuming the available electricity, the little power generated by PHCN will be able to go round.
She said â€œwe waste power too much. Most of us leave our appliances on when we should not. Frankly speaking, a change of attitude will greatly improve our power supply.â€