The Hotel Owners Forum in Abuja (HOFA) has threatened to shut down hotels in the Federal Capital Territorty (FCT) if the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) insists on increasing charges for waste disposal.
Onofiok Ekong, the President of the forum, made the threat in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.
Mr. Ekong said that the forum had written to the director of the board challenging the hike in the charges, saying that it would lead to irreversible price increase in hotel services.
He said that copies of the letter had been forwarded to the Minister of the FCT, and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation.
Copies were also sent to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Senate.
“As if the prevailing harsh economic environment is not enough, on June 1, the AEPB issued a new billing regime to our members, which reflects more than 1,683 per cent increase.
“This is over and above the provisions of the Waste Management Regulation of 2005, which is in the gazette. The said new bills were retroactively backdated to January 2012.
“It is noted that the increase in this new price regime is the highest rate ever witnessed in the history of price adjustment in the FCT,” Mr.
He said that the forum has given the board one month ultimatum to reverse the hike in waste charges, otherwise, the association would hold a street protest after which it would go to court.
According to Mr. Ekong, the board had given the hotels 21 days’ notice to pay the bill to avoid the shutdown of hotels in Abuja.
Earlier, the board had addressed a news conference on its intention to increase charges on waste collection for hospitality and commercial ventures in the FCT.
The Director, AEPB, Isah Shuiabu, said that the hospitality industry and other commercial ventures had been grossly under-charged by the board, hence the need for an increase.
Mr. Shuiabu said that the increase was not based on arbitrary administrative decision, but on technical objectives.
He said that waste charges would not only be on the number of rentable rooms, but on all other activities generating waste.
“The billing of hotels was formerly based on the number of rentable rooms without considering the restaurant, swimming pool, bars, night clubs and other activities that generate a lot of waste.
“We will charge them for all activities they carry out in the hotels, including the liquid waste they generate,” he said.