MPs Join Power Tarrif Protest In West Nile

2640 Views Arua, Uganda

In short
Members of Parliament from West Nile have petitioned the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) not to accept the application by West Nile Rural Electrification Company (Wenreco) to increase its end user tariffs.

Members of Parliament from West Nile have petitioned the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) not to accept the application by West Nile Rural Electrification Company (Wenreco) to increase its end user tariffs.
Wenreco is in charge of power distribution in West Nile.

The petition by the MPs and government ministers hailing from the districts of Arua, Nebbi, Zombo, Koboko and Maracha, followed an application for end user tariff increment by Wenreco that was submitted to ERA in November last year.

End user tariff is a unit cost of power consumed by either a domestic user or a commercial user after it has been generated and supplied by the company. Currently the company charges 356 shillings for domestic users while commercial users pay 367 shillings per unit of power consumed.

But according to the application, the company is asking ERA to increase the end user tariff to 600 shillings per unit citing high operational costs, delay in completion of Nyagak Dam and power losses they incur during transmission among others. This has generated complaints from consumers and leaders from the region with the MPs being the latest to join.

Bernard Atiku, the MP for Ayivu County and general secretary of West Nile Parliamentary Forum, says increasing the tariffs means the company has just switched on Nyagak to exploit the electricity end users. He wondered how the company can charge people in rural areas two times more than Umeme, the national power distributor, charges people on the national grid yet government keeps talking about rural electrification.

//Cue in: “Are we too…
Cue out: …of this Country.”//

While consulting power consumers on Friday, Arua Woman Member of Parliament Christian Bako Abia wondered how Wenreco can complain of incurring losses during the delay to switch on Nyagak when it was the one managing the construction process. She says as MPs from the region they have already petitioned ERA to ignore the application but rather investigate the services provided by Wenreco and ask the company to improve.

//Cue in: “It is up to…
Cue out: …not our making.”//

The MPs were joined by Eng. Gabriel Aridru, the state minister for investment, who said the timing by Wenreco to ask for tariff increment was wrong. Aridru, who represents Arua Municipality, says people in West Nile have suffered for several years without power and are currently paying more than any other power user in the Country.

//Cue in: “We just came…
Cue out: …that financed it.”//

Benon Mutambi, the ERA executive director, however said their decision will depend on the number of objections and complaints raised by the power consumers in the region.

Before the MPs joined the protest, West Nile Chamber of Commerce and the Arua business community had also petitioned ERA not to approve the application by Wenreco since it has not worked to the expectations of the consumers. They had also accused the company of cheating them as all the charges levied by them such as monthly service fee, reconnection, Value Added Tax and Adjustment factor rate are high.

Wenreco, a subsidiary of Industrial Promotion Services that is owned by Aga Khan Group of Companies, took over power supply to West Nile from the then Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) ten years ago.


About the author

Ronald Batre
Ronald Batre is so passionate about journalism that he did not wait to finish school before he started his career. This is how he started with Radio Paidha, The West Niler, Daily Monitor newspapers and later with Radio Pacis as Assistant News Editor.

To be allowed to practice his passion, Batre had struck a deal with his parents. He would complete his education. He kept his word and went through school while suporting himself with his journalism.

Entering the workplace so young attuned Batre to the plight of the youth and those who seek employment. Apart from that, he is interested in reporting about politics, local government, business and the environment. A witness to some of the destructive impact of the Lord's Resistance Army rebellion in northern Uganda, Batre is interested in reporting about peace building efforts too.

Uganda Radio Network's former Gulu bureau chief, Batre is now based in Kampala. He is URN's main politics correspondent. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.