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Cross River State consumers reject planned increase in electricity tariff

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Electricity consumers in Calabar, Cross River State have rejected the planned increase in tariff, insisting that power supply is still too low to justify any increment.

Speaking at the Public Forum for customers of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) in Calabar yesterday, the consumers said power supply was still poor and there must be improved services to warrant tariff increase.

Executive Secretary, the state chapter of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Offiong Archibong at the interactive session said, “Electricity is a major enabler of the economy, but as its stands, there is no adequate power supply for industries to strive.

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“Members of MAN are not satisfied with PHEDC’s services. Most times when issues arise and complaints get to PHEDC, the company fails to address the issues. And so, it must do the needful and improve services if they must increase tariff.”

A consumer, Antigua Okon said, “Why must PHEDC think of increase tariff when we are suffering? In most cases when a transformer or cable gets bad, they ask us to pay, but it was not like this with the former NEPA.”

A representative of the Cross River State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) opposed the idea, saying, “It is difficult to achieve an improved economy without stable power supply.

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“Where is accountability if PHEDC keeps collecting money for services not rendered? We strongly demand that PHEDC jettisons the idea of tariff increment, as it is unacceptable and will cause untold hardship for consumers.”

Another consumer, Myra Bassey also expressed dissatisfaction over plans to increase electricity tariff, arguing that the decision would encourage people to steal power and engage in bypassing, which would, in turn, cause more problems for the company.

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Earlier Project Management Officer, who represented Chief Executive Officer of PHEDC, Ernest Edgar lamented that staff members of PHEDC were frequently assaulted, just as there was a lack of access to finance for operations and investments.

He also identified a lack of anti-vandalism and theft law leading to a high rate of energy theft through illegal tampering and damage of electric metering devices, by-passing and consumers’ unwillingness to pay bills, like the other challenges facing the company.

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He explained that the planned tariff increment will aid network expansion and rehabilitation, improved customer services increased power supply and elimination of estimated bills through proper metering.

On his part, Commissioner of NERC, Dr. Musilliu Oseni said, “This public forum is going on in different stations and the major aim of this public hearing is to collate feedback from consumers, who are directly impacted by services provided by the utility and their feedback will be considered when decisions are being made on applications before the commission.”

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