Consumers’ laments as DisCos put off tariff hike retraction

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By Mordi Chukwunonso Esther

Following the suspension of the recent electricity tariff hike by the Federal Government, electricity consumers lamented the delay in the reversal of the electricity tariff to the old rates by the distribution companies on Wednesday.

In a meeting with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the trade union congress on Sunday night till Monday morning, the federal government agreed to suspend the recent tariff hike approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for two weeks.

The parties agreed to structure a technical committee containing ministries, departments and agencies of government, NLC and TUC. The committee would work for two weeks, starting September 28th, to survey 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 via a statement on twitter on Tuesday said it had issued an order to the DisCos to suspend the recent review in tariffs for 14 days, effective September 28, in line with the Federal Government’s agreement with labour unions. It also added that during the suspension, all tariffs shall be computed on the rates applicable as of August 31.

However a number of consumers commenting on NERC’s announcement of the tariff hike suspension, protested that they still bought electricity on Tuesday and Wednesday at the same rate.

A twitter user Omono Okonkwo said ‘’The suspension has not been reversed. I bought power at new rates yesterday.N5000 can barely give up to 150 units of power’’

Another twitter user with handle @Toma ‘N’Ovo Otota said ‘’This is criminal, as at September 29, I purchased unit from @IkejaElectric at the new price, I even sent a message to @ieServe be we made a purchase, now NERC is saying the reversal takes effect from September 28when I am very sure tariff as of this minute has not changed’’. He posted the response from them which said ‘’Kindly be informed that NERC has not communicated any information to the Discos. Please be informed that this will be worked on once an information has been communicated with respect to change of tariff plan to the Discos’’.

@Andrew Elumelu, another twitter user, said ‘’@ikejaElectric is yet to revert to the old tariff rate. I recharged on 28th (even paid more than before) but got far less than I used to get. @ikejaElectric, please refund the remaining units a beg… o dikwa oke nkpa… lol.

Another twitter user, with the handle @viller, 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, posted on its Twitter page on Wednesday, saying it had fully complied with NERC’S directive on tariff hike suspension.

‘’Prepaid customer who purchase electricity tokens from today will therefore see the value of the old tariff reflected in their tokens while post-paid customers will see the value of the old tariff reflected on their next bill’’, its Head, Corporate Communication, Mr Abdulazeez Abdullahi said.

In a telephone interview with Punch correspondent, the president, Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Chijioke James described the tariff hike as ill-timed.

‘’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 statement also said the order will cease to have effect on the 11th of October, 2020.

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