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23.01.2008 Regional News

Sekondi blackoutNDC MP wants answers

By Accra Mail
Sekondi blackoutNDC MP wants answers
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Ghanaians have expressed misgiving and indignation about the over 15 minutes darkness that engulfed Essipon Stadium at Sekondi in the Western Region before the match between Mali and Benin kicked off on Monday night.

The general public opinion is that it has dented the image of Ghana 2008 and some one must take the can.

“It was very shameful”. That was the frustrated comment of a sports commentator. The very worrying moment occurred when the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama and some dignitaries were being introduced to the players before the start of the game.

The Minority Spokesman on Energy in parliament, Mr. Moses Asaga, yesterday accused the government of shirking its responsibility.

“I think we need to post a question in parliament for the Minister of Energy to come and answer as to why we had this problem in the Western Region and in particularly in Sekondi…The VRA has disappointed us”. He told an Accra radio station that the management of VRA should be made to take responsibility and those who did not do their work should be disciplined.

He said the Energy Minister must be called to book and the VRA management must be disciplined.

Mr. Asaga said the energy crisis which engulfed the country the whole of last year is not over and “we think that because of the panic and the emergency generators that were put in place things were not really done technically to perfection and we are now seeing the backlash of some of those problems”

He said, “I think the government has always been saying that we are attracting foreign investors into our economy but these lapses will really have a negative impact on the investors coming to the economy, it means again [that] some the investors would always have the waiting attitude because it's like the more government talks of the economy being on track, the more problems, especially in the energy sector [we have]”.

Madam Gertrude Koomson, of the Corporate Affairs Department of the VRA explained that the authority made sufficient preparation to ensure continues supply of power and the shortage or black out

was because one of the generators failed even though the national grid was available to provide power to the flood lights in particular which take about 15 minutes to charge and come back on. She said that accounted for the delay but under normal conditions of an outage the stand by generators come on almost immediately.

“All we can say”, she said, “ is that we are assure you that we are putting on corrective measures to ensure that this doesn't recur and we render our unqualified apology to viewers and all stakeholders “.

On the current steady drop of the water level in the Akosombo Dam was a normal operational activity that should not spark any fears.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Mrs. Gertrude Koomson said the current level was being managed carefully and effectively to sustain the nation throughout the Christmas and New Year seasons.

"The drop in the water level is expected at this time of the year because the rains have ended.

"It is a normal phenomenon also because the inflows from the major tributaries of the lake have also reverted to their normal flow."

The level of the water in the dam on Tuesday was 256.10 feet, down from Monday's 256.16 feet. The minimum level is 240.00 feet.

Mrs. Koomson said the VRA had put in a lot of contingency plans ranging from the strategic use of the turbines at Akosombo together with reliance on government's emergency power plants to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

She said at present the VRA was running two turbines but this is increased to three when the need arises at peak times.

"We are running an average of 100 megawatts of power from the emergency power plant at Tema apart from the 50 megawatts installed capacity from the Wood Group, an Independent Power Producer (IPP) from the US," Mrs. Koomson said.

In addition the 80 megawatts installed capacity by the mining companies was serving as a strategic reserve plant and when the need arose it would be tapped into the national grid based on the agreement with the companies.

"Of the 126-megawatt plants which the VRA itself is installing, about 50 megawatts is currently running. All these are being done to ensure that we have continuous supply of electricity," Mrs. Koomson said.

She said a 110-megawatt combined cycle plant would be installed at Tema to be powered by gas from the West African Gas Pipeline.

She mentioned the recent 20 megawatts plant which was commissioned by President John Agyekum Kufuor as well the contract signed by government with an American energy company to make the Osagyefo Barge operational as part of steps to make Ghanaians enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply.

But with all these initiatives not withstanding, the power outage on Monday evening at Sekondi, has been a great embarrassment to Ghana and would keep Ghanaians apprehensive all throughout the tournament, not due to the fear of not winning the trophy, but because VRA/ECG would score many own goals against the country.

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