A group of Karonga residents say they have been irked by “dubious” overtures by some Electricity Supply and Cooperation of Malawi (ESCOM) at the district’s office over certain administrative malpractices and have since threatened to close down the office by way of demolition.
Among others, the concerned citizens have accused the administration of “secretly” hiking connection fees by 100 percent; which, according to their research, is not at par elsewhere in the country.
Leader of the group, Ambokire Msukwa, has told Nyasa Times that ESCOM has raised the connection fee from K46 000 to K96 000, a development he said is not only “devilish” but also “not economically feasible considering the current economic trends.”
Apart from the “secretive” hike in the connection fee, Msukwa said, Karonga ESCOM office has also tampered with its system by “deliberately raising electricity units exorbitantly.”
Said Msukwa: “This is day-light robbery by government on its citizens, [and] they think we are going to be mum on this. Let ESCOM officials know that we are going to close its district office here. They need to explain to us and reverse their decision.
“If they don’t want us to access [their] electricity they should come in the open and tell us. Most of us here depend on subsistence farming and raising the fees is a huge stumbling block.”
He added: “We are heavily disheartened, and as concerned citizens we are going to hold protests on Thursday next week.”
But in a telephone interview response to Nyasa Times, ESCOM public relations officer, Innocent Chitosi, vehemently denied the allegations.
“We have not increased the price of electricity units as is being alleged. The last time the price was adjusted upwards was in 2018. There is no way anyone can raise the price secretly as there is a process, presided over by the regulator MERA, that involves open public consultations on any proposed raise,” said Chitosi.
According to Chitosi, capital contribution for new connection has been revised from K25,000 to K65,000 for single phase domestic use.
“This is tax exclusive. connection fee and inspection fee remain at K10,000 and K5,000, respectively. The total plus tax comes to K93,200 and not K96,000 as is being alleged. Kindly take note that ESCOM heavily subsidizes connection of a new applicant at K93,200 as we spend an average of K281,000 to connect such an applicant,” he said.
But Msukwa challenged ESCOM saying were ready to prove their allegations as they had evidence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :