Zesco’s inefficiency doesn’t merit hike of tariffs – CUTS

ZESCO’S inefficiency does not merit a hike of its electricity tariffs, says the Consumer Unity Trust International.

And Economics Association of Zambia president Isaac Ngoma says people can accept to pay tariffs reflecting the true cost of electricity production if Zesco enhances its operational efficiency and reduce pilferage.

Commenting on the decision by Zesco to reapply for an upward adjustment of electricity tariffs, CUTS International Zambia chapter chairperson Ambassador Love Mtesa yesterday said the proposed tariff hike was misplaced.

“Consumers have received this message with great pain that Zesco has applied for an increase in tariffs for electricity,” he said in an interview. “In the first place, consumers have been getting a raw deal from Zesco not worth the money they have been paying. We have been facing lots of blackouts and in most cases without warnings. This has result in a number of consumers losing property and equipment.”

Ambassador Mtesa said Zesco had been having excuses of wanting to increase investments year after year but tangible results were not seen.

“The increase in tariffs is uncalled for at this time… We strongly oppose the intention to increase at the moment. It is going to impact adversely not only us… lower consumers but even big consumers in industry and manufacturing,” said Ambassador Mtesa.

And Ngoma said there was need for a complete overhaul of the energy sector.

“Erratic supply of power from Zesco is constraining production thereby affecting economy to operate at optimal levels. This tariff hike will compromise the ability to meet economic targets and erratic supply has brought additional costs to people and the industry through purchase of generators whilst paying for Zesco power,” said Ngoma. “As much as we want to see tariffs reflecting true cost of electricity production, Zesco should enhance its operational efficiency and reduce pilferage which is rampant in the company so that consumers can see the quality of supply and improved service delivery.”

Zesco has proposed that by November, electricity consumers should pay bills based on higher tariffs to enable the company contribute toward the continued development of the country through appropriate pricing of power.

Early this year, Zesco withdrew its application for a 25 per cent tariff hike, a move that company managing director Cyprian Chitundu said was necessitated by the lack of a board at the Energy Regulation Board to approve the proposal.

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