Tariff Hike: Consumers Groan under the Weight of PHCN Extortion
The Federal Government increase in electricity tariff was applied on June 1st, 2012 and many Nigerians did not protest then. However as the PHCN electricity bills for July were distributed, the story began to change.
Electricity consumers that routinely paid a certain amount for electricity consumption, found that the amount had now quadrupled.
Kunle Bello, a resident of Iwaya, Lagos, who lives in a 2 bedroom apartment, found that the usual N 2,000 bill had skyrocketed to N 11,000 for the month of June. After his investigation, he discovered that the increase was not due only to the tariff hike, but also to a consumption hike. The PHCN marketer in charge of his area had changed his consumption from an average of 202 units a month to over 800 units, without any noticeable increase in the quantum of power.
Surprisingly his neighbor, who lives in the next flat, a 3 bedroom, with his family of 5 was paying a bill of N 2,500 for the same June.
As he got to the PHCN zonal office to lay his complaints, he saw several other residents in heated argument with PHCN officials over similar cases.
The PHCN officials who for the most part could not justify the meteoric increase in consumption attriibuted to their customers proffered another type of ‘solution’. They asked the already financially burdened residents to pay N 25,000 for pre-paid meters.
This is despite the announcement by the Federal Government that the meters would be distributed free-of-charge to the populace, especially those residing in urban areas.
Sources close to PHCN officials say the senior management of the disbanded power company plan to use the proceeds of the illegal sales of the prepaid meters as a retirement cushion to ensure their nest eggs are comfortable before the new private investors take helm of affairs.
A resident of Iwaya, Shola Alabi, “We would like the government to look into this matter. The PHCN marketers are tampering with our meters in order to increase our consumption rates and the amount we are to pay. When we ask for prepaid meters, they ask us to pay N 25,000. Is that not corruption at its finest? If everybody pays such huge money, where is the money going?”