ISODEC condemns VRA’s attempt to shift debts onto consumers
The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), says it finds it extremely unacceptable for the Volta River Authority (VRA) to impose payment of government debts onto the ordinary Ghanaian.
A statement signed Steve Manteaw, Media Coordinator for the Centre, said since the collapse of the nation into the recent “utility crisis and government’s helplessness to provide lasting solutions to them, Ghanaians have began showing signs of despair as they take stock of the toll of the situation on their livelihoods”
It said the economic cost of these blackouts and disruptions run into several hundreds of millions of cedis annually adding that recently, the Association of Ghana Industries ranked disruption in energy supply as number one of the thirteen major problems facing its members.
“Can we assume that Ghanaians are right to lose their patience in this kind of bleak situation? It is unquestionable, that due to the “dumso dumso” many have suffered severe property loss,” it said.
It said people still had to grapple with the hike in fuel prices and the long queues in search of gas for their food and transportation adding that the Volta River Authority(VRA) could therefore not expect Ghanaians to pay for an increase in tariffs when they were not provided with the services they paid for.
“The Volta Aluminium Company Ltd (VALCO) and other bodies owe VRA GH¢1,086,423,500, being non-payment for bulk sales of electricity to them. Of the said amount, MDAs are indebted to the tune of GH¢230million; Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) GH¢270 million; VALCO GH¢77million; while government owes the Authority GH¢509million, it said.
The statement said the information was made available in January while two days ago, the Director of Customer Service, Dr Nicholas Smart-Yeboah of the Electricity Company of Ghana, told Ghanaians that Government owed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) close to US$500 million in bills.
It said energy generation had not kept up with demand, adding that while demand in the country was growing by 10 to 15 percent annually, supply was well below demand.
The statement said experts believed that Ghana needed about 5000 megawatts of energy to keep up with soaring demand and to achieve full middle income status and unfortunately energy generation capacity in the country is about 2200 megawatts.
It said a number of factors including neglect, poor management and underinvestment in infrastructure has led to supply falling behind demand and thereby creating the huge supply deficit, which had in turn created huge pressure on existing infrastructures.
The statement said most of the critical infrastructures used by VRA, GRIDCo and ECG are obsolete and need replacement, but the inability of the companies to replace them due to their weak financial position has resulted in huge load pressure causing system failures.”
It said though government intended to increase generation capacity to 5000 megawatts by 2015, it was unlikely that the target would be met, given financial challenges facing VRA.
The statement urged the PURC to facilitate an engagement between citizens and VRA and the regulator for an account of the management of our resources and for effective solution to the crisis.