Utility tariffs shoot up

•  Mr. Robert Dwamena —  Acting ECG boss

• Mr. Robert Dwamena —
Acting ECG boss

Utility prices have shot up tremendously.

Consumers will have to pay more for the use of electricity and water as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has announced upward adjustments in their tariffs.

Electricity has been increased by 59.2 per cent, while water has gone up by 67.2 per cent.

The increment, which is across board, is expected to take effect from next Monday, December 14.

The Director of Public Relations and External Affairs of the PURC, Nana Yaa Jantuah, who announced this at a news briefing in Accra yesterday, said the Commission took a number of factors into consideration before arriving at the decision.

She mentioned consumer interest, the generation and fuel mix, availability of the service, growth in demand, the cedi-dollar exchange rate, and the revenue required by the utility companies as some of the factors which influenced the decision.

She stated that though the utilities requested 128.6 per cent for electricity, and 400.2 per cent for water, the PURC considered “what was reasonable, what was realistic and what was prudent to operate,” while also taking into account the feeling of consumers.

“The adjustment in tariffs is largely driven by a shift in generation mix from about 58.0 hydro and 42.0 per cent thermal in 2013, to about 27.0 hydro and 73.0 per cent thermal in 2015,” she said.

Ms. Jantuah said the significant change and increase dependency on thermal generation had greatly impacted on the cost of electricity generation and supply by the utility service providers.

For water, she said, the adjustment in tariff was driven by the chemical cost, in addition to power purchase cost, as well as the operation and maintenance cost for Ghana Water Company Limited”.

She advised consumers and stakeholders that “tariffs alone cannot raise the needed capital for utility service providers to operate effectively,” and urged the government to continue sourcing funds to supplement the tariff income for infrastructural purposes.

When the Times went to town to interview a cross section of the public, most people condemned the increment.

While some complained of the perennial power outage, many cited the fixed salaries for workers as not reflecting the adjustment.

Madam Martha Hammond, a baker, complained that unlike previously when she paid between GH¢20 and GH¢30 as her electricity bill for a month, the bill had “jumped” to GH¢90 a month, although her sales were nowhere near the bills she paid a month.

“Besides, I buy water for the preparation of the pastries yet, my proceeds cannot match what I spend for the production”.

Mr. Kwame Ahorlu, a mechanic, fabricator and sprayer at the PESCO Motors, a garage at Kokomlemle, described the tariffs rise as “outrageous”.

According to him, the company spent a colossal amount of money for electricity and water, and asked the Commission to review the decision.

Mr. Ishmael Okine, a Secretarial Service Provider also at Kokomleme, said the increment came to him as surprise, since the government had employed all the strategies to solve the power situation but to no avail, and wondered if the adjustment and the importation of power badges would bring any meaningful result.

He urged the government and the utility service providers to be proactive in their operations.

Ms. Charity Agbovey, a fashion designer, said for the past one week, she could not work because of the unstable power supply, and wondered why the increase.

She thought the load shadding should rather be suspended so that workers would have some power to work ahead of the Christmas.

A fish seller, Felicia Sarpong, said her business was being adversely affected by the unstable power supply situation in the country, and asked the PURC to consider the vulnerable in the society.

A barber, Mr. Thomas Brew, wondered if the PURC considered the plight of small-scale businessmen workers before increasing the tariffs.

He said he had not been able to do business due to the instability in the load shedding exercise saying though the lights were supposed to go off and come at a particular time, the situation was terrible in Kokomleme, Accra New Town and around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, wondering if the adjustment would bring anything positive.

By Francis Asamoah Tuffour & Yaw Kyei  

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