Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says the increase in electricity tariffs will leave a lot of people stranded because the cost of living is already too high.

And Sinkamba says the increment will also result in high levels of deforestation as people will resort to unsustainable sources of energy.

In an interview, Sinkamba observed that a lot of families were likely to be stranded once the tariffs were effected.

“In terms of the cost of living, already as you can notice the disposable income for most of our people is diminishing very quickly such that people are hardly having sufficient meals. Some of them are actually cutting on their meals because you have on one side the high cost of mealie-meal which is really stranding a lot of families and then on the other side, we have the high cost of relish. So if we increase also electricity by the proposed 75 per cent, it will be extremely expensive for most families. So we must really expect a lot of suffering on the part of the people,” Sinkamba said.

And Sinkamba said the upward adjustment in tariffs would promote deforestation.

“You know, only 22 per cent of the population is connected to the national electricity grid, the other 78 percent is surviving on other forms of energy which by and large is charcoal and firewood. So for us we think that increasing tariffs at the moment could be extremely devastating on the environment and in particular the forest resources because people will start cutting down trees for charcoal and firewood which will lead to deforestation,” Sinkamba said.

“And mind you, Zambia is one of the countries with the highest deforestation rates, our current estimates are that we are harvesting over 800,000 hectors of forests per annum and it is anticipated that in the next two years, if they increase the tariffs then we will be hitting somewhere around 1.2 million hectors per annum. So already we are crying of climate change impact, now we cannot mitigate the climate change impact with this kind of country scheme.”

Meanwhile, Sinkamba suggested that the ERB be scrapped off because it had failed to execute its obligations properly.

“As Green party, we are very concerned that the Energy Regulation Board is used a s a rubber stamp, people are made to make submissions and you find that those submissions are not even given any consideration, the only time ERB used to be effective was when the board started, at the moment that board is a very big disappointment that’s why we are really emphasising our point that we just need to scrap off ERB so that we reduce on the cost of production of electricity and then by so doing, we will reduce on the impact of the cost of power on the households and the cost of living for the people,” said Sinkamba