13 December 2012

Tanzania: TANESCO Must Get Own House in Order First

TANESCO has since its formation done a commendable job in implementing its duty to "power" the nation. It has not been an easy task though given the vastness of the country and limited electricity generation sources.

Yet its successes have far outweighed its shortcomings. The importance of electricity, like water, in any country needs no emphasis. It is the power behind the moving development wheel. It is an indispensable tool, powering homes, factories, schools, hospitals, etc.

As a vital public institution, the utility firm has had its ups and downs over the years, the balance tilting on the latter. Millions of Tanzanians have had to contend with erratic power supply and rationing from time to time. Electricity generation is a cash guzzler; it is a costly undertaking. Operational costs keep on escalating day by day, which has forced the firm to review its charges, upwards of course, periodically.

We are nevertheless aware of customer discontent that the company has failed to improve its services despite enjoying a monopoly and imposing high charges. Tanesco in January hiked charges by 40.29 per cent, upping average price per unit from 141/-to 198/-.

Now they have suggested a hike on tariffs by a whopping 81.27 per cent, much to the chagrin of consumers and the general public. Should the recommended hike in tariffs by Tanesco sail through, electricity price per unit would shoot to 359/-. Such a huge increase will certainly overburden the average Tanzanian and do more harm to an already frail economy.

If needs must, Tanesco's management should instead raise the ante by first ensuring that there is reliable electricity supply at all times. Tanesco must thus get its act right. It is at folly's height for any commercial concern to pass its financial extravagancies and other woes on to its customers, most of who belong to the low-income category.

It is high time the utility firm took proper stock of its operations, checked unnecessary spending. It is time that Tanesco shows that it has parallel interests with the public it serves. We, the public, certainly want to see the company thrive and prosper. Tanesco should reciprocate by making sure that it never becomes the reason for people's hardships.

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