Dear judge Mbadwa,
My lord, the issue of tariff increases has re-emerged these few months and I have been compelled to resubmit what just doesn’t look right about our parastatals.
My lord, you know as I speak, water and electricity are way beyond the reach of most citizens.
I think the citizens are still being victimised because of the inefficiencies of the State-run enterprises which politicians have rundown anyway.
As I observed earlier, there is a worrying trend I have noticed in parastatals. They all have one formula or solution to their underperformance; raising tariffs or asking for a bailout from the Treasury.
Now, my lord, while some tariffs adjustment would be justified in some isolated cases, I repeat in isolated cases, I find this penchant for tariff adjustment every time a public entity is struggling, a simplistic or a parochial approach to bringing tangible reforms or turning around a business.
It is basically what I like to term as an acute case of paralysis of analysis sponsored by utility management.
Take a look at the water utilities in Nyasaland, my lord. All think piling their misery on a poor consumer would make their entities all of a sudden money spinners.
The utilities never care to stem the growing inefficiencies within, which has seen the emergence of parallel entities managed by employees.
My lord, I can submit that most of the financial challenges the parastatals are suffering from are manmade and they arise from employees’ insatiable appetite for easy money at the expense of the public company.
There are very few people of integrity who do not want to reap where they did not sow.
Isn’t every decision, whether in procurement or service delivery, actually made with an intention to benefit someone within the delivery food chain?
Nobody talks about interventions to reduce losses of non-revenue water which runs in billions of kwacha anymore.
And if you look at the quality of water being supplied anyway, one wonders whether consumers should actually be paying more for water contaminated with pathogens.
We know the reason the utilities like to buy obsolete or incompatible equipment. These are deliberate errors that result in more money in the pockets of unpatriotic employees.
I still remember, my lord, that one utility company in the energy sector procured envelopes that could last for a decade in an age where organisations are going digital in most of their operations.
My lord, we were still keeping containers of inappropriate equipment in the backyard of one utility company whose loss has not yet been recouped.
When chief executives officers of these utilities were being hired, they loftily talked about the vision and the strategy they were going to implement to bring a new lease of life to the ailing companies.
A few months later, after some passionate media interviews on a new modus operandi, the visions and strategies they proposed were predictably reduced to “raising tariffs and asking for a bailout” from the same government that hired them to find solutions.
My lord, don’t you think boards and management teams of these utilities should be fired for lying to the citizens and for operating like a printed book in finding solutions?
My lord, the disposable income of consumers has not increased, why should they be punished for the inefficiencies of parastatals?
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