Electricity Company’s Cruel Joke

WHENEVER I go to the offices of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to pay my electricity bill, I am struck by this bold statement of what the company stands for.

The company tells you that its tagline is “ECG, the name behind Electricity in Ghana.” The company tells you that its core value is spelt out in the acronym, “POWER”.

The ‘P’ in the acronym means “Professionalism”. The ‘O’ means “Openness”. The ‘W’ means “Wellbeing”. The ‘E’ is “Excellence”, and the ‘R’ stands for “Reliability”. There is a further expansion of what each letter of the acronym stands for.

The company states its vision as follows: “To be among the Leading Electricity Distributing Companies in Africa.” The company says that its Mission is “To provide quality, reliable and safe Electricity Services to support the Economic Growth and Development of Ghana.”

The Electricity Company of Ghana, Ltd. ought to be embarrassed, if not thoroughly ashamed of itself for failing to deliver, after its loudly trumpeted claim to be “The Name Behind Electricity in Ghana.”

I can hear the standard refrain that the sheer incompetence of the ECG did not show itself only today, Monday, March 24, 2014, and that it has been there all the time.

Pretty cold comfort for those of us today, who have to endure the overbearing heat, the frequent and unannounced power outages, the destruction of electrical equipment and appliances, the reality of prepared food going bad, etc

Where is ECG’s Vision and Missions, its professionalism, its reliability, its boast that it is the name behind electricity in Ghana?

Month after month, some of us dutifully pay our bills. Month after month ECG shortchanges us with power cuts. ECG cannot handle production and distribution within Ghana and yet it wants to be among the leading distributing companies in Africa. What a laugh.

Until the Nkrumah-led Government of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) built the Akosombo Dam, we relied on non-hydro electricity. Came Akosombo and we had so much power that we sold some of it to our immediate neighbours, Togo and the Ivory Coast. Did I hear that even Benin also came to benefit?

At one time, there was only one source of electricity power. Today, we supposedly have Akosombo, Bui, Aboadze, Asogli, etc, using water, gas, oil etc.

Yet, everyday, domestic consumers suffer from very annoying and inconvenient intermittent power supply. It is bad enough for those of us who need power for domestic consumption. What of the requirement of power by large-scale institutional, commercial and industrial establishments?

They have suffered shut-downs temporarily or permanently. Where this calamity has not happened, reduction in the labour force and increasing cost through the use of expensive generators have characterised operations of the entity. Need anybody talk of the ruinous effect on the economy and the country as a whole?

I have targeted the ECG and gone for its jugular because it is the company that directly deals with me by giving me a monthly bill. They say power is produced by the Volta River Authority (VRA), bought by Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and sold to the ECG for onward distribution to consumers. So what is happening?

It is obvious that somebody is hiding the bitter truth from the rest of us Ghanaians. What is the truth about the Akosombo Dam? Is there not enough water to operate the turbines? Has there been the breakdown of equipment that needs several millions of dollars or cedis to put back into shape?

And gas! What is the true story about gas? There was to be a gas pipeline running all the way from Nigeria to Ghana to supply gas to us. Then we heard that a piece of equipment either fell from a ship around the coast off South Africa or that the whole ship sank. Is that so?

Then we heard that somewhere along the coast of Togo, a ship’s anchor broke up a portion of the pipeline. It took sometime to repair the pipeline and then we were told that the repaired pipeline had to be dried or something.

Recently, there were conflicting reports about gas supply from Nigeria. Was it that the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had either cut off supplies or reduced the supply?
Or was it true that two giant oil companies, namely Shell and Chevron, had decided to convert the raw gas from Nigeria into liquefied gas for greater profitability? I am also confused.

Then we hear that the country is building its own gas plant at Atuabo in the Western Region and that the Chief Executive Officer is Dr. George Adja Sipa Yankey. Do you remember Dr. Sipa Yankey? He is the same person who, back in 2009, finally announced that plans are far advanced to implement the one-time premium payment. He was then the Minister of Health in the Government of the late President John Evans Atta Mills.

Here is the report by the DAILY DISPATCH newspaper: “The Minister for Health, Dr. Sipa Yankey, has hinted that plans are far advanced to commence the ‘Onetime Premium Payment’ for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) next year (2010) as enshrined in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto.”

The paper went on, “He observed that the step will reduce the economic hardship of the people and enable more people to join the scheme and trickle down to reduce the death rate in the country.” THE DAILY DISPATCH. May 15, 2009. Page 7.

Where is that animal called ‘Onetime Premium Payment’? This same Dr. Sipa Yankey, ably aided by the Ministry of Energy and the Government at large, keeps shifting the date for the completion of the gas plant at Atuabo in the Western Region.

When is the completion date, Dr. Sipa Yankey? What guarantee is there that the whole project, if ever it should be completed, will not turn out to be a white elephant? What is the guarantee that there will not be a blow-up for which no one will accept blame, as has reportedly happened to one of the electricity generating plant?

In 2012, Presidential candidate John Mahama (as he then was) promised that the disgraceful phenomenon of ‘Dumso, Dumso’ would be a thing of the past. That was in 2012. Then after inaugurating the BUI Dam, he assured Ghanaians that ‘Dumso, Dumso’ will disappear with the greeting, “Me ma wo dumso”.

Now President Mahama is apologizing to Ghanaians and asking us to be patient. Through lies, he and his Government fiddle while Ghana burns.
Load shedding. Load management. Power outage. Power trips. Human error. Sensors that automatically shut off power when the demand is heavy. Demand for electricity has increased. Shut down to maintain or repair equipment. What do we believe? Ultimately, I ask the Electricity Company of Ghana, “whatever happened to your Vision and Mission?”

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