Tenants who live in apartment buildings that share electricity and water bills are demanding a change in what they described as an unfair system.
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which they claimed was unfair especially with power consumption on the rise during the hot summer months.
The issue has caused an uproar among the expatriate community, as it comes at a time when the price of electricity and water has been increasing on an annual basis since 2016 for expats,
In March this year, the GDN reported that domestic electricity charges (for usage up to 3,000 units) rose from 13 fils to 21 fils per unit, while water charges (for usage up to 60 units) increased from 200 fils to 450 fils per unit. The rate will increase again next year, when the electricity tariff will rise to 29 fils per unit and water will cost 750 fils per unit.
One expatriate family said that each tenant in their apartment building in Manama used to pay around BD20 a month for electricity, which has now increased to at least BD70.
“The electricity bills these days are unaffordable and has become impossible to put up with the practice of sharing the bill equally,” said Indian national Jose John.
“Me and my wife have been living in a two bedroom apartment for many years now, and for the majority of the day we are both at work and it’s only in the evenings we are home and on Fridays.
“There are other families in the building, with more than six to eight members, and some tenants do baby sitting and use two bedrooms throughout the day with air conditioners on.
“This was always the case for years and the bill was common, which we shared among eight to 10 tenants.
“It used to be between BD10 to BD20 monthly which has now gone up to BD70 or BD80.
“We can’t afford this, moreover, it is unfair as the power consumption is not the same for a family of two members and that of eight.”
Another resident from Gudaibiya, Haris Mohammed, said his landlord was reluctant to correct the situation.
“Our usage of power is different from that of families and yet the bill has to be shared, which we cannot afford, especially with the electricity tariff revision,” he said.
“So, we approached our landlord as he has to officially change the electricity billing to individual apartments.
“He was reluctant, citing the expenses of wiring changes, insulation and other technicalities, and above all he said it was a lengthy procedure.”
The phased increase in electricity and water rates is part of austerity measures adopted by the government to offset a drop in oil revenues and address a large budget deficit.
The new utility prices are expected to save the government BD435.4 million until 2019, with BD290m saved on electricity and BD145.4m on water.
However, with meat, fuel, water and power subsidies all being slashed since 2015, along with the introduction of a new sin tax on cigarettes and fizzy drinks in December last year, the cost of living has increased.
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