Fix power challenges – Woodworkers to gov’t

Business News of Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Source: B&FT

Power Ecg3

The President of the Woodworkers Association of Ghana, Mr. Reynolds Debrah, is urging government and the country’s power producers to take immediate steps to fix the ailing power sector or risk witnessing a massive collapse of industries – the worst of which, he fears, will be indigenous businesses.

He said considering the huge volume of electricity consumption for most industries, government should come up with a workable plan that guarantees industries regular and uninterrupted power supply.

He said the present power crisis being experienced across the country is leading to the collapse of many industries, one of which is the woodworking industry that depends almost entirely on electricity for its work. He said the production capacity of those in the woodworking industry has been adversely affected, particularly with the recently increased load-shedding management.

He stated for instance that about 50 percent of their production capacity has been lost due to the ongoing power challenges, leading to the inability of many woodworking firms to meet the demands of customers and other huge revenue losses.

Mr. Debrah noted that industries require regular and uninterrupted power supply to reach maximum production targets. It is for this reason that he proposed government should consider reviewing the charges for use of electricity for both industrial and domestic purposes, granted that industries will get access to regular, reliable power supply.

He cautioned that if no such immediate steps are taken to address the incessant power-cuts and irregular supply of electricity to industries, it could lead to more job-losses in many areas and businesses may be forced to down-size their workforces in order to stay productive. Mr. Debrah made these comments in an interview with B&FT, in Kumasi.

His comments come in the wake of growing public fears of a worsening power situation as power producers prepare to shed more power as the result of shortfall in gas supply from Nigeria.

He also pointed out that the collapse of many companies in the woodworking industries, especially saw-milling firms, is as the result of the country’s ‘rigid’ forestry and timber laws.

He however said that the few existing timber firms in the country are not able to meet demand in the local market, encouraging the spread of illegal chainsaw operations to feed it.

As worrying as the situation is, he alluded to the fact that close to 60 percent of wood in the local market is from illegal chainsaw operations.

He observed that the absence or shortage of legal timber in the market is a major concern to many the woodworking industry. He mentioned that although there have been some efforts by stakeholders to curb the situation most of the decisions taken are yet to materialise.

The President of the Woodworkers Association appealed for government to offer direct contracts to woodworkers rather than do so through middlemen who shortchange them, which often results in shoddy work.

He said the Association intends to embark on rigorous training exercises, through the Skills Development Fund, to enhance the capacity of its members — particularly in the areas of ‘finishing’ and ICT.

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