SOME Livingstone residents have rejected the proposed average of 26 per cent increment of ZESCO tariffs arguing that the upward adjustment will increase the cost of production and in turn push up the cost of various commodities.
But ZESCO defended its proposed electricity tariffs increment saying the move would enable the power utility firm to meet various operational costs, high inflation and increasing demand for electricity.
A Livingstone resident, Samuel Banda, said ZESCO employees were not productive as they were getting 2, 000 electricity units each at a far reduced price every month while ordinary Zambians had to spend huge sums of money to buy electricity units.
Mr Banda said the Government had cut down on the distribution of mealie meal to military personnel and stopped the use of pool vehicles to civil servants to reduce on costs hence ZESCO should emulate such a move.
He was speaking in Livingstone at New Fairmount Hotel yesterday during Energy Regulation Board (ERB)’s public hearing on ZESCO’s application to revise electricity tariffs by an average of 26 per cent across all categories of customers.
“As I make my submission, I wish to strongly oppose the increment of electricity tariffs. The reason is that ZESCO increased the tariffs a year or two year ago but we never saw any tangible changes in the supply of electricity and service delivery. What is the guarantee now that we will see changes in its operations?
“Secondly, ZESCO has failed to minimise operational costs of producing electricity. ZESCO has been buying luxurious vehicles and they pass these costs to us electricity customers,” he said.
Mr Banda urged ZESCO to find an equal partner to inject investment capital into the firm and also consider listing on Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) to enable the utility firm raise the required funding.
“I wish to suggest that ZESCO employees start buying electricity units at market price to help the institution raise the required funds to enhance power generation,” he said.
At this point, ERB board vice chairperson Robinson Mwansa assured consumers that the institution would have a final say on ZESCO’s application to increase electricity tariffs.
Another customer, Ruth Hansen said if the electricity tariffs were increased as proposed, the cost of stock feeds and mealie meal would go up as such commodities required electricity to drive their production.
Ms Hansen said she would have to increase charges at her hammer mills as electricity was one of the major costs of production.
But in his presentation at the function, ZESCO acting managing director Christopher Mubemba said there was need to increase proposed electricity tariffs to enable the power utility firm meet various operational costs as well as high inflation and increasing demand for electricity in the economy.
Mr Mubemba said ZESCO would like to contribute positively to the development of the country and hence it was necessary to increase the tariffs.
“If we fail to increase the electricity tariffs, we will be contributing to Zambia failing to achieve the vision of the country attaining the prosperous middle income nation status by the year 2030,” he said.
ERB chairperson George said it was undeniable fact that the energy sector in Zambia was at crossroads
Dr Chabwera said there were structural difficulties in the energy sector which did not just require new thinking and ideas.
In its application, ZESCO has proposed the adjustment of 32 per cent for residential, 11 per cent for large power consumers, 24 per cent for small power consumers, 24 per cent for commercial consumers and 18 per cent for service consumers.