The Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) has hit at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) over the current blackout situation in the country, arguing the situation has become much worse under Peter Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) era than it was under Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party (PP) administration.
Under the two-year era of Joyce Banda, Malawians rarely experienced blackouts, but the situation changed from better to worse soon after DPP controversially took over the reins of power in the May 2014 disputed elections.
And this week the Electricity Supply of Malawi (Escom) warned the nation to brace for more blackouts in the next four months due to lower water levels in the Lake Malawi and Shire River.
However, Cama’s Executive Director, John Kapito has dismissed Escom’s excuses, blaming it for being short-sighted and lack of forecast and competence.
Kapito said it was baffling that the blackout situation was getting worse under the DPP administration unlike during the previous administration, and suspected the Escom management of sabotage.
“Escom management must explain to the public as to why we have a lot of blackouts under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration than we had under Peoples Party (PP) administration if it’s not mare sabotage to the current administration. Unfortunately neither Escom nor the Ministry of energy seem to exist in this country,” Kapito queried.
The consumer and human rights activist even wondered how the country will manage to attract potential investors with the current electricity crisis and argued that consumers were paying higher
electricity tariffs while others were struggling to access and pay for electricity as Escom cannot deliver the product.
“And they are forgetting that the very same Government they represent is wooing investors to invest in Malawi and that energy is the key for any strategic investor to put money in an economy as confused as the Malawi economy where the leaders believe in rhetoric other than actions, where the key policy making institutions and implementers do not seem to understand their role”.
Kapito also said the persistent blackouts have surprised consumers as they were promised the electricity situation will improve after the rehabilitation of the power generation plants.
“What is more annoying is that the current blackouts are even much worse than before they had rehabilitated their machine, and how they contradict Escom’s Service Charter where a number of commitments were made on electricity supply.
“It is also annoying that Escom management has failed to plan ahead on how they can generate and distribute electricity in Malawi knowing fully that their main resource is water on the Shire River. Their failure to plan and forecast on water level changes in the Shire River has been the main cause of challenges that Escom is ignorant about, any management that fails to plan and focus ahead is as good as dead; hence we cannot accept the excuses from Escom regarding either low or higher levels of water in Shire River”.
Kapito has since urged consumers to demand money back for the period that they are being denied access to electricity since they have to find other alternative source of energy, saying they are entitled to that refund based on the contract they have with Escom through the Service Charter.
“We are therefore appealing Government through the Ministry of energy to make reference to the Service Charter that it signed with Escom and ensure that Consumers are protected from Escom’s incompetence. It is in our concerns that Escom’s incompetence is coming from the same background of arrogance and lack of respect to consumers”.
Meanwhil, Kapito has demanded government to institute immediate reforms at Escom if it is serious about the public sector reforms, and called for immediate restoration of uninterrupted power supply as well as an immediate end to the current blackouts.
“Refund Consumers with credits when Escom has failed to provide electricity. Government must immediately engage the public on the calibre of an Energy generator and distributor so that it can meet the aspirations of Malawians.
Escom management must stop the habit of ‘Business as usual’ which is, as long they get their salaries and perks at end of the month, they don’t care about supplying the public with uninterrupted electricity”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :