No bills if power tariff hike not withdrawn: Balkh reps
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Elected public representatives from northern Balkh province have warned of blocking the payment of electricity bills if the authorities do not withdraw a recent tariff hike.
Residents of Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, held the same view, alleging they were being treated differently from citizens of other provinces in terms of electricity rate. They vowed not to accept such discrimination.
Provincial officials also endorsed the viewpoint of the people and provincial council (PC) members on the electricity bill issue. They suggested the privitasation of the Balkh Kod electricity power plant.
PC Chairman Mohammad Afzal Hadid told Pajhwok Afghan News residents complained daily of the soaring price of electricity. The price of a kilowatt of electricity recently increased from 5 afghanis to 6.25 afghanis.
The residents say the enhanced price was not acceptable to them as it has a huge difference with rate applicable in Kabul. Mohammad Salim, hailing from 3rd municipality district, said the government had no right to raise the tariff at time when it could not create jobs.
He asked if the government was answerable to the people, why the price of electricity was uneven in different provinces of the country. He warned if the government did not bring down the price of electricity, they would not pay electricity bills.
PC Head Mohammad Afzal Hadid justified the public complaint and announced his support to the people. He said they had discussed the issue with authorities in Kabul but did not receive a satisfactory answer from them.
“Residents of Balkh have rendered huge sacrifices; now is the time for Kabul inhabitants to scarify through paying high electricity dues,” remarked Hadid, who warned if the government did not listen to their voices, they would take to the streets.
Munir Farhad, spokesman for the acting governor, defended the demands of PC members and residents. He said Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, during a recent meeting with the Breshna Shirkat officials, had demanded a review of the power tariff in Balkh.
Zabihullah Akhtari, technical officer at the governor’s house, believed the price of electricity might come down if the Balkh Kod plant was privatised. He said 40 MW of electricity from Uzbekistan had been diverted to Mazar-i-Sharif, while the Kod plant, if rehabilitated, would generate 5MW.
Instead of the 40MW electricity, if 35MW are imported from Uzbekistan and 5MW generated by Kod Plant -- cost 2.5 afghanis per Kilowatt -- the price would automatically decline, he argued.
Syed Roohullah, deputy director of Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat (DABS), said electricity price in Kabul ranged between 2.5 afghanis per kilowatt up and 10 afghanis but there was a uniform rate of 6 afghanis in Mazari-i-Sharif.
He agreed with the plan of provincial authorities to activate the Kod power plant but said the project could not be relied on. He said they had to use gas to generate electricity. If there is a shortage of gas, they will face power outages.
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