Electricity consumers in Akwa Ibom State have expressed worry over the planned increase in tariff by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) expected to come into effect on April 1.
At a one-day public consultation on extraordinary tariff review under the multi-year tariff order in Uyo, the state capital, consumers raised concerns over the time of the proposed increase in electricity tariff saying it would worsen the economic hardship consumers are facing given the ‘crazy bills’ they are paying.
Most of the consumers who decried the estimated billing system, the irregular supply, and poor services by the distribution company said the forum should be used to feel the pulse of the consumers rather than seeking the approval of the consumers over a decision that might have already been taken.
George Ibe and Clifford Thomas who spoke during the consultation among others urged the distribution company to postpone the tariff review until further consultations have been made with the consumers across the state.
“We will be further burdened by the proposed increase, as we provide most of the power infrastructure without the refund by the distribution company,” said Thomas, a human rights lawyer who also runs a Non-Governmental Organisation.
Speaking earlier, Vincent Edewor, acting head, commercial, Akwa Ibom zone said the increase is needed to make the company more efficient to ensure the supply of reliable power.
He said the company would soon embark on an aggressive metering of consumes to ensure that estimated billing scheme was reduced adding that it has so far distributed over 100,000 prepaid meters to consumers in the state.
He said the company was only entitled to 6.5 percent of the power supplied from the national grid which he said made it difficult to provide regular supply at the current tariff rate.
, “We need the customer to understand the value chain in power distribution, the company is bleeding. If we can meter most of our customers, it will enhance efficiency in power supply,” he said,
According to John Onyi, manager corporate communications said the planned tariff review when effected would aid network expansion and rehabilitation, improved customer satisfaction, reduction in complaints, increase in power availability and elimination of estimated bill through proper metering.
According to him, ”public consultation on proposed tariff review with effect from April1, 2020 under the Multi-Year Tariff Order in line with the directive of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission,” he said.
A multi Year Tariff Order is a framework for regulating the licensees (DisCos) over a period of time by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission which was reviewed in 2015 based on exchange rate, gas pricing, inflation rate and generation.