By SILUMESI MALUMO
ZESCO must explain the proposed electricity tariff hike to the public through radio, television and other wider means and not wait for public hearings alone, energy expert Johnstone Chikwanda has said.
Mr Chikwanda told the Daily Nation yesterday that it was important for the power utility company to explain to the people why it opted to increase the tariffs.
“Use Radio and Television to explain and not just rely on public notices in print media. Most of the clients have no access to newspapers and cannot read or write and let alone come to public hearings,” he said.
He said the power utility company must go beyond the minimum public notices which appeared in the print media.
He added that adjusting tariffs by the margin contained in the application required significant engagement with the public.
Mr Chikwanda said the matter must not be left to the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) or Government to contend with.
“I strongly encourage Zesco to explain properly to the public in a language which can be understood by the public. The chairperson of Zesco board or Zesco Managing Director would be appropriate to appear explain and not delegate to junior officers.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Zesco customers who have no access to the public notice which Zesco put up in the print media. In addition, how many people attend the public hearings as a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Zesco’s clients? This kind of communication gaps lead to severe misrepresentation of facts on the ground,” he said.
Mr Chikwanda said that the reasons which Zesco had presented were valid but public engagement left much to be desired.
Zesco spokesperson Henry Kapata clarified that power generation had become costly hence the need to increase the tariffs.
Mr Kapata indicated that proposed Zesco hikes for metered residential customers who may pay K0.47 per kWh from K0.15 per kWh, while consumers above 301kWh had a proposed tariff of K1.94 per kWh from K0.89 per kWh.