Business Daily 11/25/2020
The decision by Kenya Power to stop providing its pre-paid customers with a breakdown of electricity purchase bills is in breach of consumer rights laws and should be reversed immediately.
Unlike before when the utility firm provided details on payment of value-added tax (VAT), the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) levy, inflation adjustment, water regulator fees as well as foreign exchange and fuel adjustment surcharges, the payment statements now come with fees lumped up.
This means that consumers are unable to establish the accuracy of their bills with regard to the unit prices for various items like tax, regulatory levies and other surcharges with data published monthly in the Kenya Gazette by the energy sector regulator, Epra.
This is in breach of Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya which grants consumers express rights to all information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services.
Further, subsidiary laws under the of the Consumer Protection Act, 2012 demands that consumers are provided with full information, including the price and quality, of any product or service they may wish to purchase, and to ensure that they are safe and meet international standards. The managements of Kenya Power and other utilities are duty bound to respect the law on consumer rights and desist from any actions that cast doubt on their intentions.
Electricity billing has been a contentious issue in this country for several decades and Kenya Power should avoid kicking up a fresh storm by blocking information on costing. Complaints over power pricing remain widespread and it would be prudent for Kenya Power to improve on its billing disclosures to win public confidence.
Transparency is critical in any business venture and utilities must always remember that their respective contracts with consumers are guided by law which prohibits unfair trading practices.
Denying consumers critical information is outright suspect and actionable in law. Let consumers buy into contracts that they are fully aware of and feel comfortable about. Provision of electricity is a critical matter affecting all sectors of the economy and billing should never be shrouded in secrecy.