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Seeing EWURA in a new light

EWURA was formed in 2005 as an authority that would ensure fair play to, for, by and among stakeholders in the economic sub-sectors of electricity, water, natural gas and petroleum. It is obligated by law to monitor performance of these sub-sectors, and set rates and prices that utility suppliers at both retail and wholesale levels may charge their customers.

The authority is also responsible for issuing, renewing and cancelling licenses of suppliers of goods or services in those sub-sectors as prescribed under the enabling legislation. The authority is mandated by law to facilitate the resolution of complaints and disputes between consumers and suppliers in particular, and all the players in general.

The Act that established EWURA gives it power to hear and determine complaints brought before it by consumers or suppliers of the goods and/or services regulated there under. To that end, EWURA has itself established rules governing the procedures in resolving those complaints and disputes.

Furthermore, EWURA is empowered to hold inquiries and conduct investigations into matters brought before it, and to make legally-binding decisions, based upon the applicable laws and regulations, as well as the principles of Justice and transparency — without let or hindrance — and the policy of protecting the interests of all stakeholders.

Consequent upon which EWURA’s findings, decisions and orders are enforceable in like manner as Orders of the High Court of Tanzania. The foregoing shows that the authority is not lacking in legal and procedural empowerment. This is crucial in enabling the institution to provide nothing short of sterling performance within its areas of jurisdiction.

As already noted above, the authority occasionally finds itself at the receiving end of denigration and admiration alike. While the denigrators may do little by way of detraction, the admirers are too few and far in-between for assured comfort. If only for that reason, I feel duty-bound to put in a good word for EWURA this time round.

On Sunday last week (January 15, 2012), electricity consumers in Tanzania who buy over 50 units of the commodity began paying 40.29% over and above what they’d been paying previously. This was EWURA decision, reached after conducting studies and public hearings that involved electricity consumers and other stakeholders, notably the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and other related entities.

In the event, EWURA ‘refused’ to go along with the 155% tariff hike requested by the state power entity, Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco). Apparently, that sharply steep hike had the (dubious) blessings of the company’s parent ministry of Energy and Minerals.

After all, the ministry had forwarded Tanesco’s application to EWURA like a pig in a poke, and under a Certificate of Urgency! In such a situation, one can easily imagine what the end-result would’ve been had EWURA not been in place — and in an authoritative position to intervene in the interests of all stakeholders in the sub-sector, especially consumers…

Needless to reiterate, electricity’s a crucial factor in the socio-economic development stakes for any country. It’s a ‘cross-cutting issue’ that severely impacts upon the performance of industry and other economic production activities, as well as crucial social services like Education, Health, Recreation, etc.

Electricity tariff hikes carry far and wide no matter what. Producers and service providers automatically hike their prices, usually by more than the ‘officially-hiked,’ rates to cover the new, higher costs and quench their capitalistic egos. On a capitalist point of view, the new costs are passed on to the buyer/dealer/trader basis who, in turn, passes the same to consumer/end-user: poor you and me.

In this case, had EWURA (a necessary evil?) not intervened and slashed by about 75% the tariff hike applied for, consumers across the board (not only electricity consumers, but also consumers of goods and services which depend on electricity for their production/provision) would today be paying for their electricity and electricity-dependent products/ services by over 155%.

I have good reason to bat for EWURA today, but, within reason and certain parameters. For starters, all this will come to naught if the authority does not efficaciously make follow ups to ensure that Tanesco, the Ministry and related institutions do comply with the authority’s ‘conditionalities’ in both letter and spirit.

For instance: ensure that all Tanesco employees pay for the electricity they consume as directed. That Tanesco collects all outstanding bills, especially from government. institutions and its Zanzibar counterpart Zesco. That it curbs in-house embezzlement and other malpractices, including corruption… Cheers!

[israellyimo@yahoo.com].

A  tribute  to  the  late  Former  ...

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Author: KARL LYIMO

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