Some staff of the Gambia Postal Services (Gampost) may be redundant when the 33% tariff increment proposed by the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) finally comes into effect.
Gampost Managing Director Momodou Ceesay has said if the proposed 33% tariff increment by NAWEC is effected, his institution, which pays huge electricity bill to the utility company, will be adversely affected and might lead to the laying-off of some his staff , or a passing-over cost of it to users of his services.
|Mr Momodou Ceesay, MD Gampost|
Gampost currently pays D1million for electricity annually, which “is too high”, so an increase by 33% means an additional burden of D330,000 and a total cost of D1,330,000 the national postal service will have to be paying for electricity annually.
“Where do we get the additional D330,000,” the Gampost managing director asks rhetorically at a March 17 Public Hearing held this year at the Father Farell Hall at Westfield, organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to gauge public comments on the proposed tariff increment by NAWEC to 33% on electricity, water and sewerage services.
“So when the new tariff comes into effect, I have two options: either to increase the cost of postal services, or to reduce the number of staff,” the Gampost MD said.
“If I opt for the latter, this will have negative impacts on my staff because there are other people who are depending on each of them given the fact that the dependency ratio in this country is high.”
According to the Gampost MD, electricity is a human right and considering the fact that average salary in
The Gambia is D1,300 and an average Gambian spends D500 to D600 on electricity; increasing electricity cost again will have a huge negative impact on the people – logically denying them electricity, which is a basic need.
“I think NAWEC has to look at the increment from many angles,” remarked Mr Ceesay, whose organisation provides a variety of mail services, including delivery of letters, packets and parcels and also provides some financial services to the general public such as maintaining savings accounts and conducting money transfer service via Western Union.
Like the Gampost MD, more than 95% of the people, ranging from private individuals to proprietors, who spoke at the public hearing, all rejected the tariff increment expressing deep concern over the consequences of hiked electricity tariff which will impact negatively on almost all walks of life.
The public hearing was meant to obtain public comments on the proposed tariff increment to enable PURA - which has the legal powers to determine, review, approve, modify or refuse NAWEC’s application - to arrive at a decision to pass the final judgment on whether or not to increase.
When the floor was opened by the moderator of the occasion, Malick Jones of GRTS, for comments on the proposed increment, Gambia Workers Confederation Secretary General Pa Modou Faal, who was the first to take the microphone, vehemently denied the proposed increment.
Another concerned citizen reminded NAWEC of the promise they made at the last public hearing forum to improve their services after the last proposed utility tariff increment would have been effected.
“After the tariff was increased - against the will of the people - NAWEC has not improved on its services; rather its services have been deteriorating, and today they are still asking us again to buy the same promise for possible electricity tariff increment again,” businessman Mafugi Kinteh said.
The managing director of NAWEC, Ebrima Sanyang, reiterated that when the tariff is approved, and they are able to maintain substantial cash flow they would be in a position to purchase adequate spare parts of generators, conduct timely maintenance, and embark on sustainable expansion, to provide services that will meet the needs of the people.
Nani Juwara, commercial director of NAWEC, said the rationale behind the proposed tariff increment is based on the fact that current tariffs are insufficient to sustain NAWEC’s operational obligations due to rising cost of inputs, such as fuel, lubricants, and spare parts.
“So the only option available is to increase the tariffs; otherwise the company’s operations will not be sustainable,” Mr Juwara argues.
Aja Haddy Jobe, who was among the very few people to concur with NAWEC for tariff increase in 2011, again reiterated that she would accept the latest proposed tariff increment “because the world is developing and the prices of goods are as well increasing globally; so I think it is only right for NAWEC to increase to be able to continue its operations”.
“I am a patriotic citizen so I support the move again,” Haddy remarked.