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Controversy over Tanesco poles

1st February 2013
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Tanesco Acting Managing Director, Felchesmi Mramba

Shortage of electric poles has rendered some Musoma residents unable to access electricity with some alleging that they are forced to buy the poles despite living within 30 metres of the supply line. Outside the 30 meters range, it is common for customers to pay extra fees for poles.

A disgruntled resident (name withheld) claims he has to buy a pole because he has been denied access to the available pole by a neighbour who claims, on account of his paying for it, the pole is his and that gives him the right to decide who gets to use it or not.

The man whose house is within 10 meters of the main line, expressed gratitude to the government for the lower connection fees, but accused Tanesco officials of forcing customers to pay for poles.

“…Tanesco technicians tell customers to buy poles even where it is not needed …” another customer complained noting, in her opinion that Tanesco has failed to prepare for the customer influx caused by the lower fees.

“…Tanesco knew in good time that an increase was inevitable from the reduced fees…” She too chose anonymity.

The government announced the lower fees in December, last year to ease the burden on customers who have for a long time had to buy the poles. It even spoke of plans to refund the buyer to cover for other customers who would be connected via the same poles without any extra charges for the pole.

However, such clients, as the anonymous woman, report that no such initiative has at any point been implemented leading to conflict as in the example above, where one client is denying another the right to use ‘his’ pole.

Tanesco Acting Managing Director, Felchesmi Mramba, denied there being any shortage of poles in Musoma, but hastened to promise to contact the Regional Manager in Mara to ‘verify’ the situation.

“I am not aware of the problem…” he said and went on to offer a reason as to why he is ill informed of the situation.

“…I have been away from the office for almost two weeks…”

he tried to explain the ‘inexistent shortage’ by suggesting that there could be procurement and transportation issues.

“…if Musoma faces a shortage of electricity poles it is due to delays by suppliers...”

He conceded that no client should buy a pole if they live within the set range (30 metres) from supply lines. No specifics were provided as to what action will be taken to stop the trend.

Tanesco Manager for Mara region, Philip Shigela, adamantly declined to comment on the matter, demanding instead for the reporters’ sources.

“…I cannot comment right now…first I want you to send me the names of the complaining customers…” the manager threateningly demanded.

After Tanesco announced major reduction in connection fees with effect from January this year, the connection fee for a single phase for urban customers fell by 30 percent and by 70 percent for rural clients.

Single phase connection for rural customers within 30 meters of the main line and not needing an electric pole is 177,000/- for one electric pole it is 337,740/In urban areas it is 320,960 with no pole and 515,618 for a pole.

Consumers in rural areas requiring single phase power connection but two electric poles pay 454,654/- and 696,670/- for urban places.

During that same month, the government banned electric pole importation, directing Tanesco to buy from local producers.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN