, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – The decision by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to increase electricity costs is set to be challenged on Tuesday in court by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK).
The consumer federation has lodged an application accusing the ERC, Kenya electricity Generating Company and Kenya Power for increasing the electricity charges to recover Sh630million to be used to clear arrears with the Water Resources Management Authority for utilizing water in generating electricity.
COFEK is aggrieved by the respondents’ move saying it infringes on the rights of consumers.
In the suit papers filed in court, COFEK challenges the move saying it will occasion an additional expenditure on electricity bills to the consumers whose representation, views and participation was not sought.
The body argues that the timing of the said agreement between the respondents is not right since approval of the new tariffs by ERC will cause consumers to suffer great loss and damage.
They argue; “the electricity consumers are most affected as the burden on them is huge yet they were not involved in the said agreement.”
The body argues that the consumers should not be compelled to pay for private debts whose origin remains unclear.
The actions by the respondents, COFEK says, is against both article 46 of the constitution and the Consumer Protection Act 2012 both of which guarantee consumer rights.
They have also accused the respondents of not making efforts to seek and involve consumers on a matter that centrally affects their lives and livelihoods.
The petitioner adds that the VAT Bill 2013 currently being debated by the National Assembly whose implications, if passed, will increase tax on electricity from 12 to 16 percent will put financial pressure on the consumers.
COFEK argues that the respondents are capable of working out a mechanism to absorb their respective direct costs so that no extra burden is passed to the consumers.
Consequently, the consumers’ watchdog wants the decision complained of declared unconstitutional by the High Court.