We Must Blame Government, PURC and ECG
Hey, is it true the Power Minister wanted to be adorned with some fanciful medal for bringing in something call 'power barge' to salvage the worsening power crisis? I even learnt when the ship carrying the power barge arrived, members of government went to worship it with a lot of fanfare because they're seeing the first of its kind. Hmmm...I can't really say much or ask much but they said the ship will consume some thousands of tons of fuel a day, right? In fact, we have to clap for ourselves! That's just by the way.
I am just as angry as I supposed you are at the increment in utility tariffs. So let's talk about it a little - especially about the fallout.
I read some new news on some of the online news portals about the dumsor tariffs. In one of the news article, ECG is claiming that the tariff that has been approved for them by the PURC was far below what they asked for. And the reason behind their demand for higher tariffs is that it would help them 'serve their customers well'. Then laughed...I laughed because it sounded rather ridiculous! Which customers are they talking about? Is it the already over-burdened consumer of their poor services stemming from their inefficiency and ineptitude or they have found new customers on the moon? Seriously, it must have been a joke!
In another news article, I read that we should not blame PURC for increasing electricity and water tariffs. In the said article, the allusion to PURC's current increment in tariffs is due to 'worsening economic conditions and external factors' for which reason we should not blame the PURC. The PURC has always given various reasons for the increment. Indeed there is always a reason and there can never be no reason! So PURC has become Oliver Twist, hope I'm right.
So my question is: who should take the blame? The Ghanaian who struggles to afford one square meal a day due to hard economic conditions should take the blame? I dare ask: is the same worsening economic conditions not affecting Ghanaians? Or does it mean the ordinary Ghanaian is the cause of the worsening economic conditions and therefore must bear the consequences? I think that assertion by the African Institute for Energy and Sustainability (AIES) is illogical.
I for one would blame the PURC and ECG much as the government is not immune from taking the bigger portion of the blame with regards to the current power situation which we have had to endure albeit painfully!
I blame the PURC because it has not done well. Anytime the utility providers run to them for increment in tariffs, they jump to it without asking them to show what they have been able to achieve with the previous increments. This is what ought to be done and not the usual claim that... oh they wanted 95% increment but we sat down with them and we reviewed it to 65%. For me that is not a review. A review should in this case, in my candid opinion, rather focus on taking stock of what has/have been achieved against certain key parameters. And if the review shows that nothing at all or very little has been achieved, then the whip must be cracked. Tell them to go back and if there's a clear improvement, then you can come back for more increment. I think this makes sense. PURC should stop assuming a posture that appears they are doing us a favour. Nope!
It is very true that there is a lot of stealing of power in the system. It is also true that some consumers of power are also not paying up their bills. As if that is not enough, ECG supplies power to some consumers but would never give them any monthly bills, as it were, and would only go after those people after a year or two with accumulated bills demanding immediate payment. How can you run an organization like this? There are times consumers who have been faced with this problem, have had to walk in and out of ECG offices to complain they are not receiving their bills. And it will take a long while for them to act by which time the consumer's bill must have accumulated to an amount that would be difficult to pay. So ECG cannot give any reasonable excuse whatsoever with regards to these important issues.
An institution like ECG must have identified these problems and should by now put systems in place to check and deal with those issues. No excuse can be acceptable! So ECG, as far as I am concerned, must take part of the blame.
Now let me tell you why government must take the larger portion of the blame. Government controls everything. They set the agenda and give us the direction to go in terms of development with our resources.
When the sod was cut for the construction of the Bui dam some years back, I wrote on my Facebook page it was a misplaced priority. I said so because the Akosombo is a hydro power generation plant which has been struggling with water levels to keep its turbines running for decades. And therefore building another hydro power dam in my opinion is quite clear our leaders lack foresight.
Bui dam has been completed but cannot operate at full capacity due to low water levels. Akosombo is crying for water apart from the frequent breakdown of its turbines just as Bui dam is running dry. So what have we achieved? Absolutely nothing; I think!
So we are still back to square one.