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New electricity tariff ’ll cripple industries

…Industrialist, labour leaders

By Fatima Muraina

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Stakeholders have expressed opposition to the hike in electricity tariff in the country, calling on the Federal Government to immediately reverse the new tariff.
They described the hike as wicked and exploitative, noting that if urgent step is not taken to reverse it, many more industries will fold up, with the attendant job loss.
According to them, the poor power supply has adversely affected production and slowed down the economic growth of the country.
The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had announced electricity tariff hike for Band A customers on April 3, and those affected would pay N225 per kilowatt -hour, up from previous rate of N68 per kilowatt-hour, which represented a 240 per cent increase.
But an industrialist and some labour leaders in separate interviews with The Hope on Tuesday condemned the hike in the face of epileptic power supply, and demanded a reversal.
A former Ondo State Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (MAN), Emmanuel Adewunmi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Denki Wires and Cables, also fingered heavy taxation as another major factor killing Nigerians and making the economy very hard on the people.
He said many companies including hotels will soon fold up because of outrageous bills and heavy taxation.
Adewunmi explained that a country can only make progress if it goes into production, and before there is production there must be adequate power supply which should not be interrupted with taxation.
He observed that the profitability of the manufacturing sector goes into tax putting the people into more indebtedness and other problems.
“Dollar is rising because we are not producing. We depend largely on importation, so no respect for us as this world is concerned,he stressed.
He stated that government can only help the people with regular power supply even if they are to go by bonding.
Adewunmi called on the government to go back to the drawing board and make light regular to create adequate jobs for the people and reduce hunger and poverty in the country.
According to him, a man who is paying much money on bills will have to choice but to engage in staff rationalisation, thereby setting up unemployment market.
He further stated that going back to the drawing board is to increase the country’s productivity which can only be done through regular power supply.
“Somebody paying N60,000 before, you increase to N250,000. You can Imagine the increase in electricity tariff is nonsense and madness . Even with tariff there is no regular power supply. People prefer to use generator instead of their madness”, he said.
Obeying the directive of the national leaderships of the organised labour unions, labour leaders in Ondo state on Monday morning shut down the headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), in Akure, the Ondo State capital and prevented staff of the company from resuming work by blocking the main gate.
In separate interviews with The Hope on Tuesday, the State chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Victor Amoko and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Comrade Clement Fatuase, described the recent hike in electricity tariff as unjustifiable and exploitative.
The Labour leaders who specifically demanded an immediate reversal of the tariff hike, also lamented epileptic power situation in the country.
They stressed that the hike would further bring untold economic hardship on the citizens, just as they called on President Bola Tinubu to stop various harsh economic policies his administration had been introducing in the last one year.
The two labour leaders revealed that the Monday protest was to send a signal that Nigerians are not happy with the new tariff, adding that if nothing is done after the protest the labour would go further than the protest.
They expressed their displeasure over the hike, lamenting that people are paying for the electricity not consumed.
Amoko said: “Despite the fact that we kept on trying to pay and consoling ourselves they still deem it fit to increase that tariff. We have been paying for a zero service before and they deemed it fit to increase the tariff again. We started paying for blackout.
“Our demand is that we do not need any increase for now. Secondly, let them put the light in a normal position for all to see”.
He believed that there will be positive change after the protest, saying “we expect something better”.
Also, Fatuase, said the demonstration was to communicate that the labour unions are not happy with the current tariff hike, adding that they will go beyond the demonstration if something is not done on time.
” We are expecting the regulatory body to have a serious contracts that will translate to effective performance on service delivery to all DisCos.
“You bought power and cannot even distribute, you are sending out estimated billings to the poor customers to enrich individuals. No light for some days but you bring exorbitant bills. No light for a month when there is blackout but then there will still be a bill to pay”, he added.
According to him, union leaders have told them to do something about the situation and particularly providing meters for the people to curb unnecessary and overestimated billings but they are not adhering to the advice.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the continuous burden government is putting on the people with taxation and other crazy bills.
“We want them to call a meeting, and if they chose the path of war we are ready for them,” he stressed.

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