Utility tariffs hike must come with improved quality service

The 11.17 per cent increase in electricity tariffs announced last Friday by the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) has, as expected, generated debate about the appropriateness of the increment.

While the electricity service providers: Volta River Authority, Ghana Grid Company Limited, Electricity Company of Ghana, Power Distribution Services Ghana Limited, Northern Electricity Distribution Company and Enclave Power Company Limited, have made genuine proposals for upward adjustment, businesses and ordinary consumers feel it will worsen cost of doing business and cost of living.

The PURC says it has approved the upward adjustment “for recovery of total electricity requirement for the regulated electricity market, effective July 1.”

The reactions are expected to be more intense when the PURC announces water tariffs in the coming days.

Undoubtedly, increases in utility tariffs (water and electricity) and transportation fares come with a lot of anxiety because of the socio-economic impact of the increment on the lives of citizenry, especially the low income earners.

Governments have tried to cushion the impact of utility tariffs on consumers with some amount of subsidies which also come with concomitant implications for other sectors of the economy.

We are aware that the energy sector is saddled with a lot of debt arising out of, among others, non-payment for power consumed by some private, public institutions, and non-payment of subsidies.

Indeed, this has affected efficient power generation, transmission, distribution to consumers.

Inasmuch as we welcome periodic increases in utility tariffs to allow for efficient running of power and water supply systems, we at Ghanaian Times call for quality of service from providers and efficient use of power by consumers.

There is still concern over wastage in the distribution systems of the utility service providers beyond the allowable waste.

The issue of illegal connection of electricity power lines and water pipelines, and in some instances, with the active connivance of some unscrupulous officials is still a problem.

Disturbingly, Ghana Water Company Limited response time to emergencies, such as fixing of burst pipelines is poor resulting in spillage of considerably amount of treated water that goes waste.   

We humbly summit that all these must be addressed to justify the periodic upward adjustment of tariffs.

We hasten to remind that under the Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 7,we (as a country) are obliged to expand infrastructure and upgrade our water and power systems to provide clean water, sanitation, affordable and clean energy for all by 2030.

Regrettably, there are some saboteurs who tamper with pipelines to steal water. The perpetrators must know that their conduct is criminal with dire consequences.

We are equally worried over consumer attitude towards power consumption. It is common sight to see ‘security lights’ all over houses, shops, and institutions during the day when the sun is up.

We, as consumers must be conscious of energy conservation, to help in the reduction of waste as well as reduce our electricity bills.

It is our fervent hope that the discussion and debate ensuing from the utility tariff increase would be devoid of partisanship and would provide useful feedback for the service providers to improve upon service delivery.

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