As most of the rural areas continue to feel the pressure of the recent shortage of kerosene occasioned by the break down of the Crude distillation Unit (CDU) of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the NPP-MP for Ahafo Ano South, Mr. S.K. Balado Manu has criticized the rural electrification programme of the government.
He questioned the rationale behind the Self Help Electrification Programme – (SHEP), which required that the beneficiary towns pay a counterpart funding of the project. He explained many villages are dotted with electricity poles with no cables on them due to the inability of these towns to provide the counterpart funding.
He noted that it is unjust to require that rural dwellers pay for the extension of electricity to their villages while the same is done urban areas free of charge. According to him, that policy could be best described as anti-poor. Contributing to a statement by the Minister of Energy, Prof Mike Ocquaye on the shortage of kerosene, Mr Balado Manu who is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, called on the government to review the SHEP policy as it is preventing most of the underprivileged towns and villages from benefiting from the programme.
According to him, if most of these towns were hooked to the national grid, the country would not have felt the pressure and the attendant problems from the kerosene shortage. He said some MPs were prepared to use part of their Common Fund to pay for the poles and labour, “all we need are transformers and cables to connect our communities to the national grid,” he pleaded.
For his part, the NPP-MP for Atwima Mponua, Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, whose arguments did not differ from the earlier contributor, noted that since kerosene is used as fuel and source of lightening by the rural folks, anytime there is a shortage it brings untold hardships to the already overburdened people.