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We Won’t Pay! – Consumers Tell Utility Companies   
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“We won’t pay because we can’t afford them” was the response of some consumers of utilities in the Ashanti Region who attended a public forum organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) yesterday in Kumasi.

Four utility companies – Volta River Authority, GRIDCo, Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) – have called for an upward tariff review, proposing over 100 percent increment which might take effect from October this year.

While the ECG is demanding that the current tariff goes up to GH˘0.35 per kilowatt from GH˘0.17 as distribution service charge, the GWCL wants the present tariff of GH˘1.78 (per cubic metre) to move up to GH˘4.

For VRA, it wants an upward adjustment of 100 percent from GH˘0.15 p/kw to GH˘0.30, whereas GRIDCo looks forward to an increase from GH˘0.40 to GH˘0.50.

But consumers who thronged the GNAT hall in Kumasi rejected the proposed increments, citing inefficiencies on the part of the utility companies and financial stress of various households as a result of the economic hardship in the country.

Solomon Amoo, one of the participants, told officials of PURC and the utility companies in the face that consumers of water and electricity were tired of constant increases of tariffs.

According to him, previous increments did not impact on service quality, insisting that any upward adjustments would bring untold hardship on Ghanaians.

A representative of the Association of Ghana Industries called for suspension of the utility tariff adjustment, intimating that any such move would kill businesses and collapse jobs.

“We can’t take this increase. It is cut-throat and unfriendly,” said a member of the Barber Association who argued that consumers should not be made to bear the blunt of the utility companies’ inefficiencies.

Some others also accused the PURC of being bias towards consumers, while noting that the regulator was always loud in pointing to the losses of the service companies to persuade consumers to pay more for the poor service rendered.

However, the service providers insisted that they were justified for the proposed increases in tariffs as their operation costs had doubled.

Joseph Adoko, principal financial analyst of VRA, said 80 percent of the approved tariff from 2013 to 2014 went into operation cost alone, and that the company currently faces challenges as a result of the cedi depreciation.

Kofi Owiredu, marketing operations manager of GRIDCo, said previous increments of tariffs helped the company to expand and increase transformer capacity by 30 percent, among other projects undertaken.

He believed the increase in tariff would make it flexible for GRIDCo to build the infrastructure across the country for the transmission of power from various plant stations.

Ebenezer Baiden, ECG general manger in-charge of tariff, stated that the cost of the power crisis was more expensive than the proposed tariff increases.
Source: Daily Guide

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