Business

Consumers feel heat of several levies, billing anomalies

Close to 50 per cent of power bills constitute taxes and levies making power one of the highest taxed utilities in the country.

This has put Kenya Power, the utility firm which is the only power distributor in the country in the spotlight as the cost of living makes Kenyans price conscious.

Consumers’ rants have drawn the attention of People Daily whereby a consumer who paid Sh1,000 received electricity token worth only Sh463, meaning the remaining Sh537 went to feel heat of several taxes and levies despite value added tax being zero-rated.

Total taxes gobbled up Sh134.37 with the rest going to levies including Sh279.83 for fuel index charge, a forex charge of Sh75.31, Energy Regulatory Commission charges at (Sh1.56), Water Resource Management Authority charges (Sh0.84), rural electrifi cation programme charge (Sh23.13) and fi nally inflation adjustment charges (Sh21.96).

Consumers continue to complain over infl ated power bills putting the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)

listed utility fi rm in the spotlight as the fi rst quarter of 2018 comes to an end. Months after the electricity distributor and retailer promised to rectify anomalies in their billing system, concerned consumers are still complaining of infl ated bills raising concerns about the cost of power in the country.

“I’ve been paying my bills regularly for years but around October my bill inexplicably jumped to close to Sh50,000. After visiting Kenya Power offi ces in November, the bill was adjusted to negative Sh14,652,” said a customer.

But the December bill rose again to Sh10,656.62 even as January spiked to Sh49,446. This was adjusted by Kenya Power to Sh18,000 after presenting meter readings.

“Considering that I don’t run a factory in my house am I paying electricity bill for my entire clan?” wondered the concerned consumer.

Lawyer Apollo Mboya and the Electricity Consumer Society of Kenya has already sued Kenya Power over the infl ated bills in a class action suit over bills amounting to Sh8.1 billion for November and December 2017.

The fi gure was initially Sh10.1 billion but the government recovered Sh2 billion.

The petitioners wanted the High Court to declare that Kenya Power made a false and misleading reprelevies, billing anomalies sentation in electricity tariffs and bills, thereby infringing on the rights of consumers.

According to the utility firm, a billing system upgrade done last year is said to have affected some 900,000 consumers out of the 6.5 million connected to the grid while transitioning to new system. Consumer watchdog Consumer Federation of Kenya warned that despite accurate readings, consumers were overcharged.

“As an alternative, Kenya Power needs to resume reconnection of consumers with the right quality of pre-paid meters,” said the consumer lobby Secretary GeneralStephen Mutoro.The government which is the main investor in the listed company, controlling 50.1 per cent stake refuted claims that Kenya Power has been backdating electricity bills, citing technical issues in the billing system.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said that the move will not happen saying the backdating will only happen for the month of December caused by a system upgrade.

The backdating was reported to help Kenya Power recover Sh8.1 billion costs incurred on diesel generators last year but were not factored in the monthly charges.

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