Mass sack looms in hotels nationwide

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The Nigeria Hotels Association on Thursday said that hotels in the country might soon begin to disengage workers due to tough regulations and high running cost.
Eugene Nwauzi, the Chairman of the association in Rivers State, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt that the tough situation had led to 300 per cent increase in rates for hotel accommodation.
Nwauzi said that aside from the increase in charges, the hotels were also experiencing loss of patronage.
He said that imminent sack of workers was part of the measures being contemplated to reduce losses arising from poor patronage, high running cost and tough regulatory environment.
Nwauzi said: “The recently increased electricity tariff is not sustainable and realistic because the money we pay for electricity alone is higher than staff salaries.
“Most hotels in the Niger Delta have closed down and more may follow due to their inability to make profit after paying staff salaries and electricity bills.
“Many hotels have tried to reduce their running cost by cutting their workforce, while others have simply slashed salaries by 50 per cent.
“Presently, a hotel room which formerly went for N10,000, now goes for between N30,000 to N35,000 per night resulting to low patronage.
“In the current year (2017), many hotels are in the process of cutting their staff strength to enable them pay high electricity charges recently increased from N27.5 to N44.3 for commercial users.”
Nwauzi queried the rationale the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission increased electricity tariff when a court of competent jurisdiction had ruled against the new regime.
He said the insistence by NERC to maintain the new tariff in spite of the court ruling against it clearly showed that NERC was not concerned with the sufferings of Nigerians and businesses.
Nwauzi, who is also the state Chairman of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria, urged President Muhammadu to wade into the matter and compel NERC to revert to the old tariff.
He said: “If Nigeria must come out from recession; then the power sector must be taken seriously and made available and affordable to Nigerians and businesses.
“Even if the country generates thousands of megawatts of electricity and fails to make it available and affordable to Nigerians, then it becomes useless.”
According to him, the tourism and hospitality sector is a major revenue earner and has the potential to create thousands of jobs annually as witnessed in some Western and Middle East countries.
The hotelier said that Port Harcourt alone had more than 600 hotels and guest houses with thousands of employees on their payroll.
NAN recalls that NERC introduced new electricity tariff on January 1, 2016 amidst stiff protest from some Nigerians and corporate organisation.

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