08 May 2014, Abuja – ELECTRICITY consumers in the country may be in for tougher times as various distribution companies, DISCOS, that bought the state-owned Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, have perfected plans to further increase the service charge.
Consumers were slammed with a monthly fee of N750 last December, up from the N250 they were coughing out for ownership of a meter.
A source at the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the new tariff scheduled to take effect from June was part of the decisions taken during the mid year review of tariffs, and will be effected no matter the public outcry.
According to the source, the different distribution companies spent so much to buy the PHCN and increase in rates in form of meter charge is one of the ways the companies hope to recoup their investments.
Meanwhile, the Asaba Business office of BEDC is still under lock and key following the picketing by the state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which started last week.
Though the union members did not show up yesterday to disrupt business activities at the office, customers who came to transact business at the Anwai Road main office of the company were disappointed as the security men refused to open the gate.
A security man who refused to disclose his name said the order to lock up the office was from above and it will only be opened for normal business activities if so directed by his boss.
The picketing, which the union and some of the ex-workers said was a result of the new management’s alleged insensitivity to workers demand, were also carried out in the other zonal offices in Edo, Ondo and Ekiti states.
The Delta State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Wlliam Akporeha, accused the electricity distribution company of being anti-union.
According to him, NLC will not tolerate the de-unionization of workers and victimization of labour leaders by the new investors. He said the fact that they took over management of the power firm is not a guarantee to enslave workers, insisting that workers must be allowed to exercise their rights in their workplace.
“This strike therefore is directed by NLC. It is just the beginning and may snowball into all industrial action and a general shutdown of all the agreement reached with both the BEDC and Federal Government,” he said.
The state chairman of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Comrade Felix Ogboi listed some of the issues in contention as non-payment of severance package to some disengaged workers, payment of productivity bonus (13th month), non-payment of 30 percent bulk payment for housing, refusal to pay workers that are still working, especially in Ughelli, and victimization of union leaders, among others.