NIGERIAN electricity officials have asked power distribution companies to suspend the planned increase in prices that were due to come into effect soon in response to the public outrage the hike has precipitated.
On September 1, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (Nerc) announced a new power tariff, saying the current rates being charged were too low to make the industry viable. Reeling from incessant power shortages, Nigeria needs about 50,000MW to function but only generates 7,000MW of which it can only distribute 4,000MW.
Most of the local distribution companies are reeling from the effects of under-investment and their inability to upgrade their infrastructure to meet current demands. As a result, Nerc directed Nigeria’s11 electricity distribution companies, known as Discos to increase their tariffs, to enable them generate enough revenue to run their operations.
However, the move has been very popular among Nigerians with civil society groups saying it will result in severe hardship. Up until yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress was planning to call its members out on a general strike over the matter, saying it will result in workers differing untold hardships.
In response to the opposition, earlier today, Professor James Momoh, the Nerc chairman issued a directive to all Discos to suspend the planned September 1 new tariff. He asked them to suspend the Multi Year Tariff Order 2020 signed by Professor Momoh, following a joint communique issued by the federal government and the labour unions.
This order by said that from September 28 to October 11, the Discos must revert all charges to the tariff existing as of August 31. It added that for this means that for the next two weeks, electricity consumers having power above 12 hours who were affected by the over 100% tariff hike would revert to their old charges.