April is the consumers’ cruellest month

2012-04-02 00:00

CALLING April the darkest month for consumers, Trade Union Federation, Cosatu has slammed Eskom’s electricity tariff increases due to go up by a minimum of 16%.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said that in the same month consumers also faced a petrol price hike, metrorail fares were going up and by the end of April motorists would be expected to pay at least 30c a kilometre to drive on Gauteng’s highways.

Referring to the Eskom hikes, Craven said this is the price the country pays for the policy of commodifying basic public services with the aim of maximising profits. He said that while Eskom was owned by the state, since the late 1990s it had become “corporatised” and operated along commercial lines based on maximising profits.

“The concept of pre-paid meters was introduced to enforce payment by poor consumers, and now the measures meant for cross-subsidisation of low-income domestic customers, like the inclining block rate tariffs, cannot be applied on the households with pre-paid electricity meters,” he said.

Craven said Statistics SA’s 2010 general household survey found that 2,3% of all households with mains connections had their electricity cut off for non-payment in the month before the survey. The cut-offs affected 250 000 households, or about a million people, excluded people who could not afford pre-paid.

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