Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rise in tariffs for water and electricity to affect households

NAWEC Head Office
After the National Water and Electricity Company’s (NAWEC) propose tariff increment for electricity, water and sewage by 36, 26 and 24 percent received widespread disapproval from the public at a public hearing on February 12, 2011.
The Voice Newspaper’s Sulayman Ceesay reports on the views expressed by people who do not have the chance to be at the hearing organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).
The regulatory body is expected to pass a decision on whether to approve or disapprove of the proposal following the hearing, however, a vox-pop conducted by our reporter have seen people expressing concerns that the increase in water and electricity tariffs is likely to affect many households in The Gambia as majority of the population are already finding it difficult to make do with current tariffs.  
Sirra Barrow, an ice-block seller, who resides in Serrekunda stressed that she is totally against a possible increase on tariffs of electricity and water. “This will only add to the burden of families especially the women of The Gambia who are still finding it difficult to survive the situation,” she said.
Mrs. Barrow, who is responsible for the water and electricity charges at her house, said she sells ice-block to cater for the feeding of her family. According to her, she fears that an increase of tariffs will also affect her small business as she will be obliged to increase the price of her ice from D3 and that people may not buy “as everybody will be thinking how to feed their families.”
“Presently we are finding it difficult to pay our electricity bills, so if NAWEC happens to increase a butut (lowest currency denomination) to their bills then it will be very hard for us to settle that,” Lamin Badjie, a welding workshop owner in Tallinding said.
Mr. Lamin’s work entirely depends on the availability of electricity, and he said an increase in tariffs would mean an increase in their charges which may not help but difficult on their customers.
NAWEC said the company is experiencing financial shortfalls and an increase in tariffs may be a critical solution to meet its running cost, however, Lamin Badjie believes that “NAWEC adopt other ways of solving their problems and not to think that increasing  tariffs will do.”
At London Corner, Sulayman Khan, who seems be perplexed by the whole issue, stressed that he will stop using electricity in the case of an increase in tariffs since he will not be able afford the cost. “I presently find it difficult to pay my electricity, water and rental bills,” he said.
He suggested that NAWEC should come up with strong strategies that can help to recover its’ loses.
NAWEC’s services have been regarded by many as unreliable over the years, with intermittent power and water shortages from across the country. For once, someone even define NAWEC as “Never Assume that Water and Electricity will be Constant.” But at the hearing a fortnight ago, NAWEC’s Managing Director Momodou Jallow maintained that the public should accept the proposal if they want the company to deliver as expected. Source: The Voice

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