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In protest against flouting Senate directive to suspend new electricity tariff, consumers staged a walk out on the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, during a stakeholders’ forum in Calabar.
PHEDC yesterday organised stakeholders’ forum to seek their support for the new tariff regime and was attended by various consumers from Calabar metropolis.
Speaking at the forum, the Head of Corporate Affairs of the Distribution Company, Mr Jonah Iboma, said PHEDC has put modalities in place to tackle the challenges currently experienced by consumers.
He disclosed that PHEDC would provide 200,000 metres for consumers to address the huge metering gap in the sector in the entire country, adding this will put an end to issues of estimated billing.
Iboma said “We are launching the failed transformer project where we identify any failed transformers in our network and work with the communities to replace or fix any failed transformers. That is why we have told our customers never to give money to anyone to tamper with the transformers rather they should come directly to us and we will take care of the problems.
On the tariff increase and the senate’s directives, Iboma said, “the case instituted against NERC was not against the discos. The case was by an individual and with the appeal, the status quo remains. The NERC is the regulator of the industry. The court is not the regulator, the senate is not the regulator, NERC instituted the new tariff law and we are implementing the new tariff as directed by NERC.”
But hardly had he finished speaking than a good number of angry consumers against the new tariff staged a walk out, vowing not to comply with the new tariff regime.
The dissatisfied consumers, however, insisted that PHEDC must have to improve on its services in the state before the implementation of the new tariff as anything to the contrary would be counterproductive.
Expressing dissatisfaction at the poor services rendered by the company, one of the consumers, Mallam Obuh, said that the PHEDC should have called a Stakeholders forum prior to the implementation of the new tariff regime and even before distributing February bills.
He said “Before increasing tariff, they are supposed to have called a customer forum. They are not here to give us the true situation of what is happening. The consumers are not benefitting. If Government hands over the sector to private companies, it is because they are to bring in their ingenuity to make the sector better.”
Another consumer, Asikong Egbe, enjoined the DISCO to adhere to the Senate’s directive to halt the implementation of the tariff.
Egbe said “The senate said they should stay action. Why didn’t they stay action? The Senate said maintain the status quo until we resolve the issue and they refuse. I believe that before we call this type of forum, we must resolve and agree before you implement the new tariff. We have not agreed, they have not stayed action and there is a court injunction restraining them from increasing tariff. But, they are not adhering to that court injunction.
“We, the consumers in Calabar, are going to protest this new tariff. It is not going to be a labour affair; it will be a mass protest against this new tariff. I am angry, very angry. So if they were these telecommunications companies that put up all the needed installations before launching their lines, consumers would be dead by now. Our prayer is that they should revert all February bills then we should meet to agree.”
(Source: Judex Okoro, SUN NEWS ONLINE)