Columnists Features

Lighter side of electricity tariffs increase

IF there is any business that is not bothered by electricity tariffs hike in the hood, sex trade is one.

Prostitutes reckon they do not need to pay anything for power because their business strives in darkness.
In fact, it is the only trade where business owners plead with clients to cut a deal in the dark, after all they are also called forces of darkness, forget about business forces.
“Ba brother, iyi talifu ilifye bwino,” one prostitute says, meaning “This electricity tariff increase is just okay.”
While the tariffs hike may obviously have been received with mixed feelings by hood-dwellers, not to mention bar and nightclub owners, the most vilified trade in the hood, sex work, is not threatened.
In fact, the tariff hike has given them an idea to hold their own version of public hearings in the hood to increase their tariffs, I mean charges, for clients.
They want a 100 percent increase in tariffs, oh sorry, charges to meet the cost of doing business in nightclubs.
If you didn’t know, sex workers also complain about the cost of doing business, like buying a drink in a nightclub before they find clients, booking a taxi back home in case the client runs away without paying.
Forget about the fact that they have to buy condoms as well, they need money to bribe some cops, if not in kind, and also pay rent in some seedy guest houses.
Of course, they are aware that their clients will simply not be able to absorb an increase of this magnitude without withdrawing their generosity of buying beer, hence the planned public hearing to get the views of their customers from watering holes.
While Zesco says it needs a tariff adjustment to improve electricity supply to the hood, call girls say the potential of some men failing to cope with the increase of electricity tariffs will make them fail to watch English premier league games at home, thereby forcing them to go to watering holes.
However, sex workers should expect strong opposition to their proposed tariff increase from clients during the hearing.
Obviously, some men will argue that already they are spending a lot of money on prostitutes and that it would be unfair for them to increase the charges.
“We buy you beer before we finally agree on a price for your services. Besides, you steal our wallets when we are too drunk to do anything in brothels. How can you now say that you want to adjust your tariffs?” one man would say.
“But that’s not the only reason why we do not want you to increase the tariffs. How can we be sure that your services will improve?” another man would say.
In defence to the increase, one sex worker would say: “Don’t get us wrong ba brother.”
By the way, sex workers in the hood call every man ba (my) brother, whether client or not.  
“The tariff increase is meant to enable us to build a shelter, not a mothers’ shelter, but a trading place where you will be able to find us even when some bar owners chase us from their premises. Besides, our charges are the lowest in southern Africa,” she would say.
“If we had been allowed to increase charges in the past, we could have managed to build our own houses where to trade from. The situation is forcing us to leave our rented homes for fear the landlords would know that after all we are prostitutes and not working nightshift at a clothing factory as we claim,” another call girl would defend the idea of increasing their tariffs.
Well, this is how the argument for and against the tariff increase in the sex trade would go if the hearing will indeed take place as proposed.
It would be interesting to see prostitutes at such a public hearing push for an increase in their charges.
But on a serious note, it is now an open secret that the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has approved a 75 percent increase in electricity tariffs for retail customers.
The tariffs will be effected in two phases, with 50 percent effective tomorrow, while 25 percent will be effected on September 1 this year.
Sex workers may have their own idea of tariff increase, but this one is meant to improve electricity supply and probably end load-shedding completely with the availability of more funds to develop infrastructure in the sector.


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