Electricity stakeholders, Thursday, asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to exercise caution in its planned review of the electricity tariff in the country.
They are of the view that the review should be gradual after certain conditions have been fulfilled.
The stakeholders said power supply would have to be improved and metres provided for customers before the commencement of the review.
They took the stand in Enugu during a “Stakeholder Consultations on the Extraordinary Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order’’.
The Forum was organized by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC.
Mr Okechukwu Ukwu, a resident of Enugu, noted that the challenge of Enugu was never a tariff increment, but improvement in electricity supply in terms of number of hours.
Ukwu noted that there was so much unstable supply in the South-East especially Enugu, which usually affects the residents relationship with Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) officials.
Prof. Anthony Ozoemena, a former industrialist in Enugu, noted that the issue was never the proposed new tariff but the efficiency of EEDC in attending to complaints of customers.
“Once the efficiency and reliability of electricity supply is assured; as a people with industrial mindset, we will be eager to pay.
“But on the contrary, where a customer’s complaint is unattended for days, months and even years and you want him to pay more. It is not possible,’’ Ozoemena, who is a retired professor from Western Louisiana University, USA, said.
Dr Chinweike Uba, a resident and economist, noted that the EEDC should get more residents living in suburbs and neighbouring communities close to Enugu connected to increase its collection and revenue.
Uba said that EEDC should focus on economic consideration rather than political or welfare consideration while making it investment.
“I sincerely believe as an economist that it is better to get more people connected in order increase revenue collection rather than imposing a new tariff on people facing economic hardship in the country,’’ he said.
Mr Victor Okorogu, a resident of Agbani Road in Enugu, said that he was not opposed to slight tariff increment but EEDC should put more infrastructure in its network to ensure that electricity downtime would be totally eliminated.
Okorogu noted that there was a need to expand the capacity of EEDC technical and customer care/complaint units to leave up to expectations and provide service at the shortest possible time.
Earlier, Mr Emeka Onyegbule, who represented the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said that before now the Federal Government was highly subsidising electricity consumption in the country, adding that the government had planned to remove the subsidy henceforth.
Onyegbule noted that it was not government’s intention to stop the subsidy but “it has found out that keeping the subsidy was not feasible any longer going with limited financial resources’’.
He said that this led to the proposed tariff review, which is up to 50 per cent increment of the previous payment.
He also urged the stakeholders to also ponder on the proposed new tariff review in line with the inflationary and foreign exchange rates.
In an address, Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Okey Nwosu, said that the company had invested billions of naira to upgrade its network and put more infrastructure meant to improve supply in its franchise area especially in Enugu State.
Nwosu, who was represented by Mr Vincent Ekwekwu, Chief Technical Officer of EEDC, noted that within a few years, it had invested in 14 major infrastructure expansion projects within Enugu at the cost of over N361, 735,000.
“What we are asking for is right pricing, which is fair to all.
“There is a need for the company to have enough money to pay for bulk electricity purchase, invest more in network upgrade and ensure that its esteemed customers are continually given stable and uninterrupted supply,’’ he said.