Electricity tariff increase too high for many households

2017-03-29 06:03

LOW-INCOME families in Msunduzi municipality said that with the high unemployment rate and low wages, they cannot afford the proposed 2017/18 eight percent electricity tariff increase by the municipality.

Bonginkosi Sibisi of the Electricity Action Group (EAG) said they are very disappointed at how the municipality is treating the poor.

“The lives of the poor are regressing because electricity is so unaffordable. Lives are getting harder, the poor families are in the midst of a terrible situation as a result of unemployment and low wages.”

Sibisi said for families, who depend solely on grants, most of their funds are used for electricity.

“For most households on prepaid electricity it costs around R450 a month, it eats up a huge part of the money. We also have to buy food and send our children to school and pay for transport. We simply don’t have enough money to be able to keep up with the annual tariff increases.”

Sibisi said they fail to understand why the municipality has proposed an eight percent increase when Nersa stipulated a two percent increase.

“Nersa only agreed to a 2.2% increase. Old age pensions went up by R90 and child support grants by R20. Headline inflation is 6.6% and most low paid workers will get much less than six percent this year. How does the eight percent increase fit with the massive affordability crisis currently facing majority of families in the city?”

Sibisi said to assist poor families the municipality should give free basic electricity to people on prepaid meters.

He said the increase should not be for everybody equally across the board.

“It’s not equitable to charge people in different financial positions the same. Both the Municipal Systems Act and Nersa allow for the municipality to charge low-income households one percent or even increase the tariff to a negative eight percent if it promotes affordable access.”

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