The Human Rights Defenders Coalition [HRDC] has demanded the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi [ESCOM] to come out clear on how electricity tariff hike will make an economic investment case to the consumer saying Malawians should not shoulder the cost of ESCOM’s operational inefficiencies.
The HRDC is also demanding on how far ESCOM has gone in improving its efficiency to warrant this hike observing that the parastatal has been underperforming according to audit reports and ESCOM must publicly declare the numbers of applicants on its connection waiting list and give a time frame on when they will be connected.
The organization says it is appalled with the proposal by ESCOM to the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority [MERA] for a-10 percent increase of electricity tariffs saying it is also aware that MERA in its latest update dated 14th September, 2021 indicated that it would consider ESCOM’s request after scrutinizing among others, a grid Key Performance Indicators [KPIs].
In a statement signed by its National Chairperson, Gift Trapence, the HRDC says it has called into question the reasoning, fairness and justification of the proposed upward increase in the price of electricity saying it strongly reckons that the proposed adjustments are unreasonable and a gross economic injustice to Malawians who are already over-burdened by the punitive tax regime and poor performance of the economy.
The HRDC says ESCOM has become synonymous with poor service delivery such as erratic power supply and poor performance saying the parastatal is characterized by poor corporate governance glaringly manifested by corruption, negligence, fraud, Procurement issues, lack of accountability, political interference and many other deplorable devices.
The organization says the National Audit Office [NAO] audit report of 2018 indicated that ESCOM owed billions of kwachas to several suppliers, saying at the end of 2020, the parastatal owed the Energy Generation Company [EGENCO] MK41 billion, and other shocking figures to National Oil Company of Malawi [NOCMA] and Aggreko, among many others.
It says many customers have been voicing out their frustration with ESCOM’s poor service provision such as the prevalent blackouts, questionable billing and tardiness in attending to faults, reminding it that not long ago, revelations were made where politicians plundered fuel at ESCOM with reckless abandon.
The HRDC says ESCOM institutional vehicles have been used for party activities notwithstanding the procurement scandals that cost the parastatal millions of kwachas saying Malawians still do not know where the 4 million Litres of Diesel meant for power generators, went.
…’’As HRDC, we are of the view that any investment must have an economic justification, the hike proposed must be positioned to create value that will be beneficial to the customer,’’….reads the statement in part.
Meanwhile, due to silent electricity hiking as always be, ESCOM consumers are paying K2000 for 27 units from 30 while K1000 is for 13 units from 15.
By Vincent Gunde