Calabar consumers protest against high power tariff
Electricity consumers in Calabar have protested against the high tariff charged by Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), and berated it for not heeding the Senate’s directive to suspend the new tariff.
The protest, which was followed by a walkout, took place over the weekend during a stakeholders’ forum organised by the PHEDC to educate them about the new tariff regime.
Among customers who attended the seminar were hotel owners, small-scale industrialists and owners of residential houses.
Among the protesters were one Mrs. Ify Uzor, who said she occupies a one bedroom flat, but the bill she has been receiving since December was too much to handle.
The aggrieved consumers protested against a situation where, the company simply estimates bills without ascertaining the number of units consumed by them.
They called on the distribution company to visit the houses or companies being charged, to do physical counting and readings of the meters before sending their bills.
“We understand that there are no meters, but if we sympathise with them, they too should bear with us, they complained.
Another consumer, Asikong Egbe urged the electricity distribution companies to accept honour the senate directive and ruling of the court, ordering it to suspend the new tariff regime.to halt implementation of the tariff.
According to him, “the senate said they should stay action. Why didn’t they stay action? Why have they not maintained the status quo until we resolve the issues on ground,” he asked.
He expressed worry that the firm did not choose to use an interactive forum before implementing the new tariff. “We have not agreed to pay the bills, they have to stay action because there is a court injunction restraining them from increasing tariff,” he said.
They consumers vowed to continue to protest against the hike until there is redress. “We 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 regime, especially since February.”
Manager Corporate Communications of the firm, Jonah Iboma, explained that, “it is only the national electricity regulatory commission that has the power to issue an order on tariff implementation and not any court or senate order halting the process.