Group calls on Gambian govt to review electricity, water tariffs as cost of living outpaces salaries

A Gambian group, Bring Back Cheaper Tariffs Movement, has called on the government to demand affordable water and electricity for Gambians.

The group made the call in a statement on Friday May 5, 2023.

According to the group, access to these basic services is a fundamental human right.

“Access to affordable water and electricity is a basic fundamental human right which any serious government must provide its people,” the statement reads.

It adds, “Unfortunately, The Gambian people have been struggling to enjoy stable electricity and access to clean water since independence, leading to the rebranding of The Gambia’s only National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC).”

The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) has increased its prices by 37% for electricity and 20% for water, making The Gambia the fifth most expensive country to purchase electricity in West Africa.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which is responsible for regulating public utilities, has failed to address NAWEC’s poor standard of service delivery, which costs Gambians billions of Dalasis in loans and bills.

The Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism has found that over 70% of the Gambian population suffers from E. Coli in household drinking water due to PURA’s lack of care.

The cost of living is fast outpacing the salaries of low-income earners, and the Gambian government’s Basic Salary pay scales for Grades One to Five are less than D3,000.

The group calls on the Gambian government to review its targets to ensure access to electricity and water for all Gambians by 2025.

NAWEC owes almost D1 billion Dalasis to SENELEC, and the Gambian government reportedly owes NAWEC close to D750 million, which has led to numerous blackouts during Ramadan. The millions of Dalasis owed by the government to NAWEC and NAWEC’s billions owed in loans highlight the financial calamity NAWEC finds itself in, all at the expense of the Gambian people.

The group has disclosed a plan to peacefully demonstrate its dissatisfaction with NAWEC over their latest tariff increases, calling on all Security Officials to secure their right to do so. They will also conduct local sensitizations to discuss the latest price hike and implore NAWEC to tell The Gambian people the real reasons behind the increase.

“Our movement will be conducting local sensitisations in the public to discuss the latest price hike. We implore on NAWEC to tell The Gambian people the real reasons why they have introduced this extortionate new tariff.”

The group demands that NAWEC returns to its previous tariff as the new tariff is clearly unaffordable. “Even if a new tariff was to be introduced an increase of 37% for electricity and 20% for water is clearly unaffordable leaving us with no option but to demand that NAWEC returns to its previous tariff.”

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