WestNile Residents Protest Power Tariff Increament
The proposal by the West Nile Rural Electrification Company-WENRECO to Electricity Regulatory Authority to hike the power tarrif by 100 percent has drawn angry reactions from consumers. Last year, WENRECO applied to the Electricity Regulatory Authority seeking to hike the power tarrif from 300 shillings a unit to 600 shillings. In the application a copy of which URN has seen, WENRECO cites the high operational costs, loses they incurred when the Arua thermal power plant broke down and delayed operationalisation of Nyagak power dam as the reasons for the proposed tarrif hike.
In addition to increasing the power tarrif, the company is also seeking for an extension of its concession from 20 to 30 years. WENRECO signed a 20 year concession with government to supply power to West Nile region. On the reception of the application from WENRECO, ERA placed adverts in News papers on March 4, 2013 calling for comments and objections to the proposed tarrif hike from power users in West Nile within fourteen days. Power consumers and local leaders in West Nile region have condemned the move, describing it as corruption of the highest order.
Led by the West Nile Chamber of Commerce and industries, the power consumers have petitioned ERA rejecting the proposed power tarrif increase. According to the power consumers they expected the power tarrif to reduce since they are using power from Nyagak hydro dam. Peter Jurua, the chairperson of Arua Chamber of Commerce and Industries warns that should ERA approve the application, they will mobilize power consumers to abandon the service and resort to solar power.
Ben Okuyo, chairperson of Arua business community says that should the application to increase tariffs succeed they will drag both WENRECO and ERA to court because they have submitted several complaints about the quality of service that should be used a yard stick before tarrif changes are made. Okuyo says that since WENRECO started supplying power in the region, they have been paying exorbitantly and see no reason for further increase of the tarrif yet hydro power is cheaper.
He says they will not take to the streets, but will just disconnect their premises from the power to force WENRECO out of business. Grace Atako, a power consumer wonders why WENRECO is seeking for a tarrif increment yet the company promised lower rates after the commissioning of Nyagak. She says any increase in the tarrif will affect her internet cafe business.
Sam Wadri Nyakua, the Arua LC 5 chairperson has called upon government not to approve the application saying that company has been offering poor services. He says that should ERA approve the application, they will mobilize locals to evict the company from the district and reject its services. Frank Baker, the regional manager of WENRECO says that their concerns for an increased power tarrif are justified. WENRECO, a subsidiary of Industrial promotions services is owned by the Agakhan group of companies