The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has called for improved communication and collaboration with stakeholders to appreciate issues of fuel and electricity pricing which tend to have an emotive effect on the people.
ERB excecutive director Langiwe Lungu said at the first ever Open Day held at Lusaka yesterday that the programme was aimed at encouraging rapport between energy consumers and the regulator.
Ms Lungu said the issue of pricing of energy products and services was a hot one that resulted in different emotions, but that they hoped to establish some form of awareness programme to enlighten the stakeholders on the matter.
“As the agency responsible for pricing of energy products and services, we do recognize that electricity and fuel pricing are highly emotive issues.
“Let me point out that it would be irresponsible on our part if we neglected to have honest discussions with our stakeholders on the true cost of energy and why tough decisions have to be made by the regulator,” she said.
Ms Lungu said while some consumers have condemned the recent marginal reduction in fuel prices, others have actually hailed the move to cut the pump prices, and that the day would help close up the differences for the consumers to appreciate the intricacies involved in pricing energy products and services.
“The open day platform which will be replicated in our regional offices in Kitwe and Livingstone in the course of this month is meant to complement other awareness programmes we have lined up to engage energy consumers and stakeholders,” she said. And ERB licensing office has called for the need to adhere to laid down standards when operating filling station including cleanliness around the facility. Licensing Officer Simon Chanda said filling stations must stick to the rules of operation in accordance with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and the local authorities in the particular areas. Mr Chanda said as the regulator, ERB should ensure that filling stations upheld the basic requirements such as smooth road surfaces and air pressure among other necessities.
“Our role as the licensing authority is to ensure all safety measures are in order before a filling station begins operations.
“We work in collaboration with other agencies including ZEMA, ZABS and the council to ensure a safe site is picked for the location, including adequate space from possible sources of heat or fire, as well as general cleanliness of the surroundings,” he said.
He said it was illegal for operators to establish filling stations in areas which were no t yet approved by ZEMA or the councils, as ERB would not approve such applications.