Some artisans in Lagos on Tuesday decried the recent increase in electricity tariff, saying that it negated the Federal Government’s policy on inclusive growth and self-employment.
They told the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that the new electricity tariff was a setback to small scale entrepreneurship and individual wealth creation.
NAN reports that Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on December 23 said that starting from January 1, individuals and organisations that use electricity for commercial purposes would pay more.
The chairman of NERC, Dr Sam Amadi, said the increase was as a result of recent rise in the price of gas and other technical losses incurred by the power generation and distribution firms.
Mr Joseph Morindoti, a barber in Ilasamaja, said that it was wrong for NERC to increase tariff now that power was not stable.
Morindoti said that he spent N2, 000 daily to run his generator for alternative power supply and urged electricity companies to improve supply before introducing a new tariff.
“Barbing business depends more on electricity. Presently, due to poor power supply, l rely mainly on a generator to survive in this area.
“If we have stable power supply, we will not have problem paying any tariff since we will make more money to pay for utility services,” he said.
Alhaja Afusat Popoola, the market leader of Ajeromi Frozen Food Market Association in Ijora-Olopa, a suburb of Lagos, said the increment was unacceptable, judging from the poor electricity supply nationwide.
According to Popoola, there is no justification for the increment in the face of dwindling sales and erratic power supply.
“We cannot afford to pay this new tariff because we do not have power supply here in the market.
“Most of the time we are losing a lot of money from rotten foods due to erratic power supply,” Popoola said.
She said it was illogical for the Federal Government to allow new investors to focus on returns from investments without a moratorium for electricity supply to stabilise.
Mr John Okere, a fashion designer at Mushin, urged the government to resolve all the challenges facing the sector before increasing the tariff.
“There are lots of challenges facing the sector– ranging from lack of gas supply to infrastructure dilapidation.
“Most of the transformers are faulty in our area and needed to be upgraded.
“When they have done all these, then we know that we have to accept the hike in tariff,” he said.
Mr Tunde Akinfenwa, the Managing Director, Blue-Cool Refrigerator Ltd., in Aguda, advised NERC to ensure that all consumers were given prepaid meters.
Akinfenwa said that consumers would welcome any increase in tariff if they were on prepaid meters, adding that they would pay as they use the power supply.
“A situation where tariff is increased at a time when the billing system is still faulty– not transparent and not credible– is unfair and unjustifiable,’’ she said.
Mrs Jelilat Asake, a food seller at Ojuelegba, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene and ensure that NERC and electricity companies rescind the increase.