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Bauchi State consumers fault electricity tariff increase

From Beatrice GONDYI, Bauchi

Electricity consumers in Bauchi state have expressed their displeasure of plans by the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) Plc to increase its tariff without a commensurate increase in the power supply.

The consumers made their views known while speaking separately at a public hearing organized by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on the proposed tariff increase by the (JED) Plc held at the Hazibal Hotels, Bauchi.

They wondered why the distribution company planned to increase electricity tariff when what they get is epileptic power supply.

They lamented the estimated billing by the company to those who have no prepaid meters in the state.

A resident of Gwallameji area of Bauchi metropolis, Alhaji Lawal Mohammed, said that the distribution company should not expect their customers to be happy about the increase when they only get power for just two hours in a day.

He said: “Sometimes, I pay N7,000 as my light bill, at times, I pay N9,000 and I paid for last month of the 10th February and truly, we only got light for just one day from 11 am to 6 pm. How do you expect me to be happy about the increase and want to pay?

“You don’t even have vehicles, no equipment, how do expect Bauchi to enjoy light when you don’t have enough vehicles? And you don’t even pay your workers until the 10th day of the next month, how do you expect them to put in their best and work? So, you have to check yourself very well.”

A consumer, Paul Chiroma said that for the past one year, all the complaints that I sent to (JED), none of them, 40 of them, was replied.

He added that “there are also instances whereby residents are charged commercial tariffs when they should be charged residential tariffs.”

He also said that there was a need for seriousness to improve services rendered to the customers by the distribution company.

The Deputy Chief Technical Officer, (JED) Plc, Engr. John Emeruwa, while reacting to the complaints, said the company would look at the issues raised by the customers.

He said most some of the customers even reject the prepaid meters pointing out that there is a standing rule from the regulatory agency that anybody who has no meter should be disconnected.

“We constituted a team to monitor between 7 and 11 pm, those people who are fond of bypassing the prepaid meters. Barely three days ago, we arrested about three suspects for this act and when we took them to the Police, they were taken to court and they were asked to pay N10,000 each and they were released.

“So, this is a company and that will not make us relent, we will continue.

The Chief Executive Officer, (JED) Plc, Engr. Uday Mishra said the electricity tariff review is belated saying that it should have been done over two years ago.

He said the company had been running at a loss hence the need for the tariff increase pointing out that the tariff of the Jos Disco is one of the lowest in the country.

“We should have done this review over two years ago but now we are going to review it giving the inflation rate, giving the investment required and most importantly, giving what we have lost in this industry. As you know, whatever we are billing, we are not getting back, so to take care of these issues, the tariff has to be reviewed and we have already submitted our plans to our regulator,” he stated.

Dr. Moses Sharifa, Commissioner Consumer Affairs, (NERC), in an interview with newsmen, said after the nationwide consultations going on concerning the tariff increase, the Commission would go back and review all the issues and complaints raised before considering the requests by the Discos.

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