Are ECG Workers More Important Than Ghanaians?

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We are a very patient people and for that, many institutions and their workers, have taken us for granted for so long.

No sane society, will allow Senior Staff Union of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), to issue ultimatum to the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) to withdraw its directive to the ECG.

The PURC a fortnight ago directed the ECG to suspend its new billing software to ease the electricity pressures on consumers.

The PURC’s proposal to increase electricity tariffs from January this year, generated hostile reception from stakeholders and consumer advocacy groups, when they travelled the length and breathe of this country to solicit views from consumers.

For some people, the move could further impoverish the destitute in our society. With the combined effect of the increases in petroleum products, necessitated by de-regulation, Ghanaians were right and are still right, to have been anxious about the utility tariff increment.

Officials of PURC were all over the place, pushing the proposal for a new utility tariff, against simple logic that they were putting the cart before the horse by hiking tariffs for a commodity that was short in supply.

At the time, they were tabling the proposal, we were experiencing load-shedding, commonly known as ‘Dumsor’.

The questions many Ghanaians asked PURC were, Why not ask ECG and Ghana Water Company Limited, to fix the supply and distribution side first?

Why not first address the other components of their mandate that have to do with adequate supply and consumer protection? We were told everything will be alright, once we agree to the increment.

All they thought of and could possible dream of was, increment.

We have trusted the PURC all these years, hoping that one day, they will see eye to eye with us. We told them that increasing tariffs, will only make life more difficult for majority of Ghanaians who live below the poverty line.

We told them that, businesses will suffer if they go ahead with the proposal to increase tariffs. They said not to worry, that we should trust them.
And we did, as we have done over the years, but what happened afterwards, a new billing software was introduced by the ECG to coincide with the 50
percent increment, this was to ostensibly make their work and ours (Customers) easier, but as we say the devil is in the details.

The electricity situation in the country, has been far from impressive, it has indeed been abysmal, power supply has been epileptic and any signs of improvement is nowhere in sight.

Power generation in Ghana has indeed become an enigma. One cannot fully grasp the true situation and intricacies of the power sector. Ironically, the age long issue of power supply and generation in Ghana, has witnessed massive transformations, supposedly designed to boost power generation and improve the supply of electricity. However, the end result of such transformations seems to be the mere words that we are used to.

PURC, have always acted in bad faith with consumers, anytime they come to us to allow them increase tariffs, they have come on the basis of performance.

They will tell us, if we want to enjoy regular and uninterrupted power supply, we must allow them and as many times as they have come to us, we have agreed with them in principle, not delivery, as we know that was never going to happen.

How many times haven’t we as consumers complain about the treatment meted out to us by ECG, we have been patient with them, despite the failed promises over the years.

The last increment in December, which as I mentioned earlier came with a new billing system and although officials of ECG are telling us that 7000 customers, had problems with their billing, I bet to differ. How did they even come by that figure, because they did not set up any special desk to receive and attend to complaints from customers?

PURC as a regulator asked the ECG to suspend the use of the new billing software, until all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed, but workers, not management of ECG, won’t have any of that.

What has PURC done wrong, except to propose the most logical thing, which is suspend and have all the problems sorted out and then, it can be reintroduced.

Workers of ECG, who have enjoyed every decision taken by PURC, over the years, are up in arms with the PURC.

This is the first time PURC, have heard the cry of consumers, this is the first decision they have taken putting the customer first and what do we
hear?

The reason given by the workers of ECG is that, their workers are being threatened; my response to them is that, finally the chickens have come home to roost.

Do they know how many families have lost loved ones and bread winners because of their activities, do they know how many people have lost their work and so have no desire to live again, do they know how many businesses have had to fold up, because of erratic power supply.

Institutions rendering public services such as hospitals aren’t left out in the electricity conundrum, as they are made to source for alternative power; while the masses bears the brunt. Lack of electricity also causes problems for agriculture. Most irrigation lines are run by electricity, so when the power is cut out then the crop yield decreases.

Has the ECG worker, who seems so much concern for their members,had the same concern for their customers, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

To my surprise, the deputy minister of power, John Jinapor and the finance minister, Seth Terkper, who is acting as the Power minister, are treating the workers with kit clothes, how many assurance have they giving Ghanaians, who have been shortchanged all these years.

The dust the workers are throwing in our yes, by claiming that their members are being threatened is hogwash, because they are not the worst customer service provider in this country.

We are only tired at the rip-off, we are tired with the lip-service, we have had enough of their inefficiencies and now they want to blame the poor customer, who goes to their offices for answers, but leave dejected and disoriented.

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