Labour rejects moves for electricity tariff hike

…says Nigerians can’t continue paying for darkness

Ukpono Ukpong – Abuja

Frowned by media reports of Federal government’s plans to divest 40% of its shares in DISCOs and GENCOs, the organized labour has warned against any move to increase the electricity tariff noting that Nigerians rarely gets power in their houses even as factories are closing shop and fleeing to neighboring countries.

In a communique issued at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held in Kano, the Congress described such a move as tantamount to rewarding poor performance, noting that instead of selling public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs, government should review and reverse the privatization of the power sector.

Also they called on government to further empower the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to prevail upon DISCOs to scrap the practice of estimated billings, enforce relevant laws and guidelines outlawing estimated billings and immediately deploy pre-paid meters to electricity consumers all over the country.

While rejecting further hike in electricity tariff, NEC further called on the government to make electricity available and affordable.

“The NEC rejects any increase in electricity tariff in the country. It was the conviction of the NEC that continuous hike in electricity tariff and persistent power outages present huge financial burden for businesses thus making goods and services produced in Nigeria not to be competitive as goods cum services produced elsewhere.”

Similarly, the President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, in a statement made available to Daily Times called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) not to encourage inefficiency by approving higher tariff, explaining that the DisCos has not been able to collect the billed revenue for the current tariff.

“There is very low collection efficiency in the system. The argument that the increment in tariff will help to improve power supply holds no water. For decades now we have been paying for services not rendered which to us is a broad day robbery.

“Increase in tariff means passing the low efficiency loss to the customers. If collection efficiency is high enough, it will help reduce the gap in cost of delivery of electricity and reduce need for higher tariff.

“The truth about the power sector is that Nigerians have not had peace or recorded any significant progress since November 2013 when the sector was privatised.”

He questioned the rationale behind government release of another intervention of N600bn to operators when the first two bailouts of N213bn and N701bn released to support power distribution, generation and gas companies did not bring any significant progress in the sector.

“We have issue with government making all these serious interventions without significant progress. Is it not shameful that Nigeria with over two hundred million population cannot boast of 6,000MW consistently for one week at a time that South Africa with a little over 50million population is generating over 50,000MW?

“Government cannot continue to enrich some cabals in the name of privatisation. They cannot continue to use the taxpayer’s money to fund a major sector like power yet businesses are collapsing.

Operators have given us room to suspect them, and nothing is going to change the mind set until we begin to get value for our money. The privatisation process must be reviewed for the sake of our comfort and to save the few existing companies in the country.” He said

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