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26.08.2005 Feature Article

Ghana: A dose of irrational power supply

Ghana: A dose of irrational power supply
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My early childhood training helped me to accept a belief, that the good old book - The Bible, contains powerful/useful messages for mankind. Having settled on this assertion to be true, periodically I quote from the Holy Book.But being a firm advocate for comparative religion, I do quote from the Koran too when the need arises.

According to Genesis 1:3: "And God said, let there be light, and there was light".This message, though prophesied in the "beginning" is still relevant to our survival. When people living in the Adum-Banso area in the Mpohor Wassa-East district of Ghana asked for "light", they got it, but now they have to live in "darkness".

It is for this reason, coupled with the injustice and irrational power supply to the people that a case is being advanced to explain how the people benefitted from SHEP III (a rural electrification initiative), and yet have to live in total darkness for most part of the year.

There is an "arm-twisting" scheme going on in the area which further punishes the rural dweller.

Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings in spite of all the dictatorial instincts and "strong-arm" rule, left a legacy which cannot be sacrificed easily. He acts swiftly, he protects the vulnerable, the poor, the "so-called" villagers who normally are unprotected and denied basic necessities. They do not enjoy all the "goodies" of urban life.

It would be recalled that in 1992, when Electricity Corporation of Ghana(ECG) officials in Takoradi initiated a process to deny the people of Adum-Banso a high voltage power transformer which had already been installed in the town to facilitate industrial growth, ex-president Rawlings blocked this evil adventure.

The plan, later unfolded by observers of this unnecessary move was that, executives of wood sellers association in Takoradi had managed to bribe ECG officials with large sums of money and gifts in exchange for the bigger power transformer at Adum-Banso , claiming that the people were under-utilizing it. When this wrongful acquisition became the norm, J. J Rawlings stepped in , lambasting those behind this unpopular plan.

I have said it before, that whilst investigating all parameters of this saga, ECG officials in Takoradi, attempted to coerced me into receiving a bribe. I totally declined the offer, condemning the act as a disgrace in the highest order. I am a villager with a clear conscience.

In the process, an official of ECG shouted in frustration: "Do Not Mind The Villagers" - referring to the people of Adum-Banso. This phrase later became the headline in a letter I wrote to the editor of Daily Graphic, exposing yet another example of official misconduct and greed. Some Ghanaians pick the hard way of learning a lesson.They find it difficulty to live a life devoid of past mistakes.

In the ensuing battle, ex-president Rawlings took personal interest in the matter after the Daily Graphic publication, urging ECG officials in Takoradi to abrogate that wicked plan, and to ensure that the people in the Adum-Banso area receive uninterrupted power supply. The ECG officials complied , but some lost their jobs for underrating the potency of their mischief and the punishment thereof. Others were demoted or transferred.

Today, ex-president. Rawlings is still remembered for this yeoman's job, though most people in the area do not believe in his party's ideology.

Thirteen years after this ordeal, the people of Adum-Banso and surrounding villages still confront their number one "enemy" - the Electricity Corporation of Ghana. People in the area describe their operation as a "sabotage" - the infrequent supply of power without a reason.

Interestingly, the people are aware that at the moment Ghana is not being stingy with power supply. At least, more energy sources are being explored, a reassuring reminder being that the Aboadze Thermal plant is situated in the Western region of Ghana where the people of Adum-Banso are part.

What is more unsettling is that , no week passes in the area without frequent power outages. Unannounced frequent interruption of power supply has contributed to a situation where electrical appliances acquired through lifetime savings have been damaged or completely destroyed in these rural areas. It makes a mockery of checking "rural-urban drift".

The flip side is that, anytime there is a major event in the area, citizens do not have another choice, but to contact ECG officials in Takoradi, plead for "mercy", and pay huge sums of money to ensure frequent power supply. This is daylight robbery, for which the government must act to forestall this act of wickedness and undue exploitation. The people cannot be blamed for being poor.

Corruption is not only a preserve of government officials, it has become part of the Ghanaian social fabric, and must be tackled from all spheres of life.

Is this the price people have to pay for protecting a bigger power transformer? Is the Energy Ministry aware of this? Are the opposition parties aware of this exploitation? Have they commented on that? .... or all that they are interested in is the "wahala"nonsense?

Are the newspapers (the media in general) showing interest in all domestic matters having direct impact on the people? Are villagers still Ghanaians?..... or justice for all , basic necessities for all , are just overused slogans? ....or we are all equal, but not equal ?

At least, I know ex-president Rawling did what he could to help the people of Adum-Banso, Adum-Dominase, and Mpohor area when "ECG crooks" attempted to cheat them. When the matter came into the public domain, he acted swiftly.

The right to enjoy some basic necessities of life has not and cannot be predetermined by corrupt public agents. It cannot be identified with a "chosen few" in any environment where democracy is touted as gaining strong roots.

If democracy, indeed, facilitates change in attitude , perceptions, and equal treatment , then we have to ask ourselves whether these avowed attributes are workable in our homeland?

If Ghana is still for all Ghanaians, then any process gingered with failure, and undue punishment designed by any government agency towards the very people they are mandated to serve is undemocratic and abusive. It must be totally condemned and reversed.It must be curtailed through official intervention, and the culprits punished.

If a government remains adamant while people who are already poor are further exploited to be poorer, we cannot claim the tenets of democracy are gaining grounds. Rather, we can conveniently say, another platform has been provided for the people to say, at least, the "past" provided a glimmer of hope than the "present".

People ask more questions when they are socially and financial oppressed as being re- enacted through Adum-Banso's politics of power supply unprofessionally engineered by the Electricity Corporation of Ghana in Takoradi.

Once again, how can the opposition parties miss all these? How can newspapers concentrate their space and time on Gizelle Yajzi, the Syrian-born American woman, a foreigner, who is at the center of a hotel controversy in Ghana, and miss vital domestic issues? Are we serious-minded?

What a nice way of telling Ghanaian voters, that "there is nothing good under our sleeves, keep what you have".

This "politics of darkness" through which people have to bribe ECG officials who have been paid by government to supervise power supply, woefully goes against what was professed through the Bible, its relevance we cannot ignore- "Let there be light".

The government must act because it has the power to do so. This irresponsible exploitation must end. Failure to do so , dents the image of a government in power.

Needless to say, ex-president Jerry John Rawlings did his best in this area. -Author- Ato Aidoo, former associate at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana. He now lives in Evans, Georgia. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.