By Emeka Ejere
Placing hotels on the manufacturers’ power tariff level has been described as an unwholesome practice that should be reviewed for operators in the Nigeria hospitality industry to remain in business.
Mr. Joseph Abohweyere, chief executive officer of Theodawn Hotels, Ikeja, who stated this in an exclusive interview with Alabingo.com, maintained that there is no justification for making a hotel, which does not run machines to pay the same rate as manufacturers, who are the heavy consumers of electricity.
He noted that what his hotel does not use more than appliances like air-conditioners and water heaters, which he said, are also found in most homes.
Mr. Abohweyere recalled that effort by his organization to get Ikeja Distribution Company, IKDC, to review the tariff at a time proved abortive as the company insisted there was nothing it could do about it.
“We’ve been to Ikeja Distribution Company to have discussions with them and they told us there’s nothing they can do about, that’s the tariff level”, Abohweyere said.
“I said but we’re not a manufacturing enterprise. If I’m manufacturing things, and I’m running machines, it’s a different thing; they can put me at that level.
“But you cannot put me at that level when I don’t have machines running. What we have are air-conditioners and water heaters and the difference is not even much from what you see in many homes, because most people have ACs and water heaters in their homes.”
He also lamented the issue of multiple taxation, which he said, is making the business environment so tough that only those who are big can survive.
His words: “We have issues of multiple taxation. You have issues of unexplained levies by the local government like radio and TV that they cannot explain. And when you ask the officials, they tell you that they really don’t know; it’s just an avenue for the local government to survive – to take extra money from you. No service is rendered.
“And because they’re part of the government, you cannot fight them. Otherwise they come and cause trouble and embarrassment to the establishment.
“So it is the love for the service, the passion that is keeping us in the business. We keep trying to survive. You don’t have electricity; you’re burning diesel at a very expensive rate; you have to maintain your generator. It’s an uphill task.
“And I had people that came back with me and they’ve gone back. They could not continue. Several people that came to Nigeria to invest, they lost it all. And instead of continuing, they left. In a nutshell, business in Nigeria, if you’re not that big, is very…very tough.”
Mr. Abohweyere called on government of all levels to come up with policies that will make life easier for small and medium scale enterprises in the interest of the nation’s economy as it is in other climes.