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Electricity tariff: Workers threaten protest over maltreatment by customers

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Electricity workers under the auspices of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) have expressed readiness to protest against maltreatment by electricity consumers following tariff hike.
Expressing the harmful effect of the hike on both real sector and the field workers of Electricity Distribution Companies(Discos) across the country, the union said, it might be coerced to take action, if the situation continues.

This is as the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) urged Nigerians to report any arbitrary price hikes, stating that it will not hesitate to take action against businesses engaging in price fixing.

The FCCPC made this disclosure in a statement posted on its official X handle on Sunday. It highlighted the strain the act places on consumers’ well-being and economic stability and urged citizens to report such practices.

“The FCCPC acknowledges that the rising cost of essential goods impacts consumers’ well-being and economic stability. While we recognize that the commission cannot directly control prices, we are committed to safeguarding consumers’ interests and ensuring fair market practices, necessitating fair pricing.

“Arbitrary price increases stemming from untoward practices like price gouging and conspiracy to manipulate supply violate existing laws. The commission will not hesitate to invoke Section 17(s) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018 against any perpetrator of such acts. This section prohibits obnoxious trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of consumers,” it pointed out.

The statement enjoined Nigerians to stay vigilant and report any unfair trade practices they encounter.
“We encourage consumers to remain vigilant and report unfair trade practices to the FCCPC. Consumers can provide details, including the conduct, location of perpetrators, and other relevant information for investigation

“The FCCPC remains committed to promoting fair competition, protecting consumers, and fostering a regulated marketplace. We appreciate citizens’ vigilance and encourage active participation in reporting any violations,” it added.

Similarly, it also encouraged electricity consumers to report distribution companies that failed to comply with the capping of estimated bills for unmetered customers.
Meanwhile, according to NUEE, the planned action was as a result of the anticipated attacks most of the field staff are being exposed to by angry customers and the number of jobs that might be lost in the real sector as reasons for the warning.

Acting general secretary, NUEE, Comrade Dominic Igwebike, stated that, since National Union of Electricity Employees is one of the critical stakeholders in the electricity sector, “it has been its major concern to see the delivery of constant, sustainable, clean, and affordable electric power to our dear nation, the hike was unjustifiable especially at this period when supply of electricity has reduced drastically.

“If any of our members is attacked or molested by customers in the course of performing his or her duties, we will down tools. We just don’t give an ultimatum for the sake of giving. This is the statement from the union concerning the hike and our position is that it should be reversed.”

Dominic said:: “since there hasn’t been any meaningful improvement after the privatisation of the power sector even though the country has an installed capacity of about 14,000MW but generates about 4,803MW whereas Nigeria needs at least 30,000MW to reach sufficiency, increment in cost of tariff from N68 /kwh to N225 /kwh is absurd in a country where the majority of the masses are grappling with basic survival and an electricity access rate of about 55 per cent.

“The justification given by NERC is that the hike is attributed to only Band A consumers who make up only 15 per cent of electricity consumers and utilise 40 per cent of the nation’s electricity consumption. It begs to understand the sensibility of the person(s) that uttered such a statement purporting that it would not affect the general public.

“They need to answer these questions: Who are the Band A consumers? What do they do? Who are the customers of the Band A consumers? Who bears the brunt of the electricity hike?”

Still expressing its concern over the hike, NUEE said, some manufacturers might soon use this as loopholes to downsize as they are faced with high cost of production and low patronage.

“As the increased cost of goods will make Nigerian-produced goods unattractive as imported and smuggled items will be far cheaper than it, people will resort to those goods, thereby fueling the economy and employment situation of the countries of import. Our manufacturing and business sectors will become comatose,” he pointed out.

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