BULAWAYO residents have bemoaned the proposed 16% tariff increase by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), describing the move as absurd taking into account the poor service they are subjected to by the power utility as well as citing the current rough economic climate.
NQOBANI NDLOVU/JUNIOR MOYO
ZETDC has proposed 16% tariff increase saying it is based on a $986 million revenue requirement that is in line with its 2014 planned expenditure.
It also said the budget was in line with the inflation rate of 4,3%, but most residents disagreed.
Albert Masheka from Burnside said the move was unacceptable and there was no convincing reason ZETDC could advance to justify the increase.
“We don’t understand the increase in tariffs because ZETDC still has not reduced load shedding,” Masheka said.
“Besides that, inflation hasn’t increased and we have more rains this year for them to produce hydro-electricity,” Masheka added.
An Entumbane resident who preferred to be called Mrs Mandisekwe said the proposed tariff increase was unfair to consumers.
“We pay for electricity in United States dollars which allows them to buy power outside the country, but we have been experiencing poor service from them.ZETDC also switches off electricity randomly and does not apologise for that,” she said.
“Even if we have a problem with burst transformers, they take a long time to fix them complaining of lack of funds and in the end it is residents who raise funds for them to be fixed,” she said.
Liverson Nyathi of Nkulumane 12 complained about poor service from ZETDC.
“They introduced these cash power devices and they expect consumers to repair them when they are not functioning.
“We can’t afford to buy enough electricity at the moment and this sudden increase means we will have little or no electricity at all,” he said.
Another resident Edgar Madungwe said ZETDC should reconsider its decision as the country had enough resources to raise funds for such a crisis.
“This decision is unfair because the country has diamonds and gold which can be sold to raise funds rather than milking money from already strained consumers,” Madungwe said.
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) has also rejected the proposed tariff increase saying most households cannot afford it.
BPRA’s organising secretary Ambrose Sibindi said a tariff increase would further burden residents currently failing to settle their electricity bills resulting in the majority of households being disconnected.
“Residents would not be able to cope with a tariff increase at the moment as they are reeling from high unemployment that has been further worsened by the rapid de-industrialisation of Bulawayo,” said Sibindi.
“From the perspective of Bulawayo residents, a tariff increase is imprudent at the moment as residents simply won’t be able to afford.”
BPRA met ZETDC officials on Friday to lobby the power utility to reverse its proposed tariff increase.
ZETDC has reportedly suffered losses running into millions of dollars because of relatively lower tariffs charged and the failure by consumers to pay their bills.
Sibindi said BPRA had urged ZETDC to speed up the process of installing prepaid electricity meters saying this would help the utility increase its revenue flows and in the process eliminating the need to raise tariffs at a time the economy remains stagnant.
“As it is, most people are unemployed while the lucky few earn less than $300 a month yet the breadbasket for an average family is over $500.
Residents therefore will not be able to cope with an increase in the cost of electricity,” Sibindi said.