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02.12.2010 General News

John Mahama mad at utility companies

By Ghanaian Chronicle
From left: Vice President John Mahama, Mr. Cephas Gakpo, MD, ECG, Charles Darko, MD, GRIDCo, Kweku Andoh Awortwi VRA CEOFrom left: Vice President John Mahama, Mr. Cephas Gakpo, MD, ECG, Charles Darko, MD, GRIDCo, Kweku Andoh Awortwi VRA CEO
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Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday, directed the utility companies to step up their performances, in order to justify the recent upward tariff adjustments. 'Ghanaians are increasingly becoming disturbed about your services, and there is a dire need for you to set up performance targets and standards, coupled with better supervision, in order to churn out better services to your customers,' he said.

Vice President Mahama gave the directive when he held an emergency meeting with the utility companies to learn at first hand, their major challenges, and how the government could intervene to improve on their seemingly deteriorating services.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Cephas Gakpo, Managing Director of the Electricity of Company of Ghana (ECG), Nii Okine Kotei of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), Mr. Martin Nijsse, Managing Director of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), Mr. Charles Darko, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), and Madam Alexandra Totoe of Volta River Authority (VRA).

The Vice President said the current performance of the companies was below standard and highly unacceptable, considering the 'hue and cry' that arose during the recent tariff adjustments.

He identified lack of communication between the companies and customers as one of the major challenges they needed to solve, to pave way for an understanding and cordial relationship.

Vice President Mahama categorically mentioned the water and electricity providing companies for their failure to inform their customers on challenges they faced.

'Fortunately, there are a lot of radio stations in the country, and yet the service providers often fail to announce to their customers, problems they are facing, until they (customers) start making noise, which I personally think is not good enough.

'The frequent water shortages in some parts of the cities and power outage are not good signs of development, and you need to change your style to win the sympathy of your customers outside there,' he stressed.

He said the government was currently channelling a lot of resources into the utility companies, and it would therefore, be unfair for them to continue with 'such attitudes towards the improvement of services.'

The Vice President appealed to the service providers to strengthen their supervisory roles to ensure that all sectors were working effectively to meet their targets.

Mr. Gakpo, said since March this year, his outfit had spent a total of $430 million on projects towards the improvement of electricity supply.

He attributed the recent power outages in some parts of Accra to the high factory demand of the commodity, prompting the ECG to step up production to meet the supply deadline for Christmas.

Mr. Martin Nijsse, Managing Director of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited, said with the expansion of the Kpong hydro machines, water supply would improve even to areas that hitherto were not getting supply. – GNA

In a related development, myjoyoneline also reports that Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), has said the Vice-President's call for improved services by the utility companies was not out of place, and that he was just echoing the frustrations of the public.

Dr. Akwetey, who was speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show yesterday, said the comments by the Vice-President, John Mahama, was quite an embarrassment to the utility companies, as it was made in public.

Dr. Akwetey said the Ghanaian public must be told what were causing the problems, and what plans were being designed to solve such irritating problems.

He however, believes the Vice-President's comments were not enough, stressing, 'After complaining or airing those concerns in public, tell us what more you are going to do to fix the problem. Is it technical? Is it financial? Is it incompetence? And some swift action should follow.'

He further explained that even though there was a need to critically examine other key issues which were plaguing the utility companies, he believes 'there is a whole lot of incompetence there. I mean, how do they manage customer relations…it is extremely poor. You know, they don't explain anything. Occasionally (they), because of the criticism, you hear them on radio. But they haven't put in place the systems that the individual customers and corporate raise.'

Dr. Akwetey advised the companies to find better ways of reaching the citizenry more effectively, instead of just running radio announcements, which may not get a large audience at a time.

He said the explosive growth rate of the population was also very crucial, and should be factored into their operations for the effective delivery of services.

He added that comments from a section of the public castigating the Vice-President, after the comments, were not fair, as people are shifting blame onto the Vice-President, who is not directly responsible for ensuring that the utility companies perform their functions to the satisfaction of Ghanaians.

Dr. Akwetey said the companies needed a plan as to how to work effectively in replacing obsolete equipment.

'In between what the Vice President said and what the ECG's demands [are]…we must also demand how people, leaders, managers become more service-oriented to deliver public service,' he added.

He reiterated the need for the Vice-President to put a timeline to his request for improved services from the utility companies, as it would ensure that they performed their duties effectively, and are held accountable for their actions or otherwise.

Veep at Tepa
Meanwhile, Simmons Yussif Kewura reports from Tepa that the Vice President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has urged chiefs not to be only rulers over their subjects, but also honest and forward-looking, since development revolves around them.

This was contained in a statement read on his behalf by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hanna Tetteh, at the 10th Anniversary of Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampem's ascension to the Tepa Paramount Stool. It was under the theme, 'Ten years of quality leadership; promoting the welfare of the people.'

Mr. Mahama noted that chieftaincy institution had undergone so many silent reforms, as governance becomes more demanding, noting 'today it looks as if there is a latent competition among chiefs over what they can do to improve the lot of their people, and even beyond their jurisdictions.'

The Vice President commended the Tepa Traditional Council for ensuring a peaceful atmosphere devoid of chieftaincy disputes.

Mr. Mahama added that the government really appreciated contributions made by chiefs, particularly, the Tepahene, Nana Atwenewa Ampem, whose reign as a chief for the past ten years has seen the establishment of a Health Assistant Training School in the area.

The Vice President used the occasion to outline some of the achievements of President Mills' administration, and mentioned some as the single digit inflation, stabilisation of the cedi against some major currencies, the increase in the capitation grant by 50% and the provision of free school uniforms to school pupils.

Mr. Mahama promised that the government would soon rehabilitate and expand the railways, ensure that there were no more schools under trees, and also undertake various activities which would create jobs for Ghanaians.

He, therefore, called for collaboration between the government and all Ghanaians to work towards the goals set by the government.

Present at the ceremony were the former President, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor and the flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo Addo.

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