A group of 25 people most of them youth teamed-up near the National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR) yesterday requesting the opposition party’s leadership to allow the join them in a peaceful match to the State House slated for yesterday to pressure the government to lower the electricity tariffs raised January on 13 this year…
The 40.9 percent electricity tariff increase approved by the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) has been received with great dismay by many, accusing the government of beefing up the inflationary pressure currently felt in the country.
Yesterday’s group, christened Mwera had come to NCCR Mageuzi to give the political party support after hearing that they were heading to the State House to express their views about the effects of power tariff raise approved by EWURA.
“Most of us are not NCCR Mageuzi members. We have just come to give the party support because the electricity tariffs do not affect NCCR-Mageuzi alone but all Tanzanians. For us youth we have to eke out a living to feed ourselves and our parents,” one of the leaders of the group, Hussen Fadhili (20) told this reporter.
Fadhili said of late, life has been unbearable even before the electricity tariffs were raised recently.
“Life has become unbearable these days. The government through EWURA has put pepper in an injury for increasing price of electricity,” he lamented.
He said while he was spending some 4,000/- a day some months ago, he is forced to part with 10,000/- a day, saying “even with 10,000/-, life is not that good. The expenditure would increase to more than 20,000/- a day after the electricity price increase.”
He said prices of sugar, rice, sugar, bus fares have gone up to the extent that many have considered drinking tea and eating rice a luxury while many people now walk to and from work places.
Wielding their placards the group braved the morning drizzle dancing and singing anti- price rise slogans in the precincts of the opposition party’s head-office in Ilala Dare s Salaam.
Some of the placards read, Kama noma iwe noma (Let come what may), Umeme haujui itikadi (Electricity has no ideology). Mkaa bei juu, Maisha yamepanda. (The price of charcoal has gone up, Cost of living has risen).
According to the party’s Administrative Officer Florian Rutayuba the demonstration had been called off to heed to the president’s call of meeting them to discuss over various issues including the electricity phenomenon. The party officials were to meet the president at around 2 pm yesterday.
Various officials both in the political and civil society circles have reacted very bitterly to the power tariff rise.
Shadow Minister for Energy and Minerals John Mnyika has said the hiking of the electricity tariffs would compromise economic progress and negatively imparting on people’s lives.
Also the Tanzania Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) has urged the government to get rid of various taxes that are charged to industries so as to make sure that they do not close their business due to high operational costs.
CTI Managing Director Christine Kilindu says predicts that prices would continue going up because of the new electricity prices.
There is also fear that because of the increase of the tariffs, products from Tanzania would not compete favourably in the East African Community market.
On January 12, EWURA announced an increase of 40.29 percent in power tariff instead of 155 percent as requested by TANESCO.
Customers using 50k Wh, general use customers (restaurants, barber shops) currently paying 157/- per unit will pay 221/- per unit.
Customers paying 94/- per unit as lower voltage supply customers will now be required to pay 132/- per unit.
High voltage supply customers (mining companies, industries and factories) now paying 84/- per unit will buy each unit at 118/-
TANESCO staff will also have to pay charges at the rate equivalent to that applicable for general use customers instead of 4.90 per unit they used to enjoy.
Given the hard economic situation that the country is facing it is very unlikely that the government would reconsider lowering the electricity tariffs.
Experts believe that electricity tariffs in East Africa are likely to remain high until the power sector in the region which is monopolised by no-performing state utilities, is open to competition.