Deputy Minister of Power, Mr John Abdulai Jinapor, has given strong indications to individuals and organisations engaged in power theft and illegal connection to stop the act or face serious sanctions.
Leading a task force made up of officials of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Energy Commission to inspect some industries in Accra, the minister said an exercise had begun to clamp down on illegal power consumers throughout the year.
Targeted at industries, entertainment centres, hotels, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the exercise has been induced by the wanton theft of power on the part of some people, a development that undermines the revenue drive of the sector.
The minister gave the warning when the task force went to the Accra North Industrial enclave to inspect some industries to ascertain the nature of their electricity connection and the state of electricity meters.
The task force, which was accompanied by the media, inspected the premises of Latex Foam Company, Dannex Limited, a pharmaceutical company, and Fan Milk Limited.
Although there were no illegal connections on the premises visited, the impromptu nature of the exercise was met with some form of resistance on the part of security personnel and officials of the various companies.
The officials were of the view that they had not been informed before the task force and the media barged into their premises and started taking shots with their cameras.
The minister had to explain matters to the officials before the task force and the media were allowed to make any inspection.
However, after the inspection, it was clear that the companies were clean.
Mr Jinapor pointed out that the exercise, which was carried out unannounced, was purposely to expose perpetrators of power theft.
“We cannot continue to have a system where some people pay for power and others do not. It is unfair and creates imbalance,” he stated.
Power theft headache
Illegal connection and the non-payment of bills remain some of the biggest challenges facing the ECG.
In spite of the efforts by the company to control the situation, the theft of power is becoming overwhelmingly high.
System losses by the company is currently at 23.5 per cent, with the situation causing the power distributor to lose several millions of Ghana cedis.
A special court has been designated to specifically prosecute those who steal power or engage in illegal connection.
In August last year, the heads of seven entertainment centres in Accra were arrested for illegal connection, which resulted in a loss of about 152,700 kwh of power, costing the ECG GH¢137,488.
In the Kumasi metropolis and the Atwima-Kwanwoma District in the Ashanti Region, 17 customers of the ECG were arrested for power theft last year.
Between January and March 2015, the ECG retrieved GH¢2,810,390 from 941 individuals and organisations which were engaged in illegal power connection.
The money was retrieved after the culprits were arrested and prosecuted for stealing 7,061,183 kilowatt hours (units) of energy from the ECG.
Between August 1 and September 25, 2015, prosecutions numbering 104 were made, with fines totalling GH¢87,000 slapped on offenders.
In December 2015, 40 customers of the ECG were arrested for power theft.
Ministries not exempted
Mr Jinapor indicated that the ECG needed the financial resources to invest in areas in order to deliver quality services to Ghanaians.
Therefore, he said, the task force would continue to ensure that individuals, industries and MDAs paid their bills and did the right thing.
He added that the MDAs had been instructed by the Ministry of Finance to make provision for their power consumption, hence they had no excuse not to pay.
On the power situation, he explained that measures were being put in place to increase generation, while the transmission lines which tripled last week would be investigated.