Power retailing company, Power Distribution Services (PDS), has sparked open disagreement in Akufo-Addo government, as well as the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)over its activities in the Lower Manya Krobo area of the Eastern Region, leading to riotous situations, insecurity, injuries and two deaths.
While, Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfuor, feels the rioting residents of Lower Manya Krobo ,were being uncouth and should go off the national grid if they have challenges paying electricity bills, the Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu, is supporting the protest by the residents over the massive disconnection exercise undertaken by PDS in the area.
The governing NPP, has also described as unpalatable the comments by the Eastern Regional Minister, asking the residents of Lower Manya Krobo to go off the national grid, if they have challenges paying electricity bills.
Eric Kwakye Darfuor, frustrated by the deadly protest by the Krobos against what they claimed is deliberate over billing and mass disconnections by PDS, publicly chastised them for demanding free power.
“We are all Ghanaians, we are all human beings, and we don’t want anybody to be mistreated. People should feel free and go about their duties legitimately. If you feel you cannot pay for electricity cut it off.
“It is optional, the only thing that universally is free in Ghana now is Free SHS not electricity bill,” he said during a stakeholders’ meeting held jointly by the Regional Security Council and the Municipal Security Council at Odumase Krobo last Thursday.
“Everybody, the rich and poor, you have to pay for electricity. Fuel has never been for free whether it is firewood or charcoal or solar or anything it is never free.”
But Peter Amewu, disagreed with the Regional Minister.
Addressing residents in the area, the Minister, expressed outrage over the PDS’ handling of the situation.
“I support the people of Krobo land for demanding their rights because I will not tolerate such nonsense. I have seen the bill is not working and you are giving them money to pay. I have every right to query authorities that are involved.”
While extending his condolence to the bereaved families, the Minister also assured that the issue will be investigated.
“I want to assure the families that we are going to investigate this to the latter. I have already stated that we brought PDS to come and change the system. I asked the District Manager to be here and he did not come. These are the people who are managing our system. Please accept our sincere condolence. We are strongly behind you in this time of your mourning. It is a very difficult moment for you. We are going to support the family.”
The NPP in Lower Manya Kobro, also found the Minister’s comments disrespectful to the people of Kroboland, raising concerns of brewing unease in the party in the region.
Addressing a press conference on Monday on the development, the NPP general secretary in the constituency, Goldman Awuku Dodzi, urged the Regional Minister to render an unqualified apology to the people of Kroboland.
“Per our culture I cannot apologise on behalf of the Minister when he is alive. I will throw that to the Minister to come out and apologise to the good people of the Kroboland. I don’t know what briefing he had before he made that particular statement,” Dodzi said.
“Probably,” he continued “he [Minister] said that on the lighter side of things and knowing the media how they are and the way they capture their stories, sensational headlines, that sort of things. So I cannot speak for the Minister…because I have never had any briefing from the Minister to know what actually went into making that particular statement.
“But the only appeal, I will make to the regional minister is for him to come and apologise unreservedly to the good people of Kroboland.”
Meanwhile, the party declared its support for the people of Lower Manya in the wake of the deadly clashes with police to protest alleged overbilling and mass disconnection exercise by Power Distribution Services.
“We as a people of Lower Manya Krobo NPP stand by the people of the Krobo Land and until the last customer or consumer of power in Lower Manya is served justice on overbilling, wrongful billing and rightful accumulated bills we will continue to stand by them and fight for them,” the NPP in Lower Manya Krobo announced at a press conference Monday May 27.
“We are not saying we will not pay electricity bills because it was built on our land. We also have water treatment plant built on our land [and] no single Krobo complained that they will not pay water bill.
We have been paying water bills and we have been paying electricity bills and our forefathers paid, our fathers paid, we are paying and our children that will follow us will also pay. The only thing we will not pay are overbillings, wrongful billings and then unconsumed power billed us,” the party adds.
The youth organized a spontaneous protest to petition the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Area, Kwaku Simon Tetteh, on their concerns on over billing by PDS and its ongoing mass disconnection exercise.
They mounted road blocks and pelted the PDS Staff with stones and sticks at Yohe, a community near Odumase Krobo when PDS staff went to the community to discontinue its mass disconnection exercise.
The irate youth smashed a PDS Nissan Pick Up with Registration Number GV 2318-1. It took the intervention of armed Police personnel to rescue the PDS staff.
The PDS staff, decided to switch off the transformer cutting off power supply to the entire area.
Shortly after the attack, the angry youth mobilized to embark on a protest to petition the MCE, but the armed Police rushed to protect the Municipal Assembly Office by preventing the youth from entering the premises.
This has led to clashes between the youth and the Police. Many warnings shots were fired to disperse the youth who were also attacking the Police with stones and other implements.
But PDS, has expressed disappointment in Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, for supporting the protest staged by the residents of Lower Manya Krobo over the masse disconnection exercise.
The Minister was at Krobo Odumase to commiserate with the family of a 24-year-old man, who was shot in the course of clashes between the residents and the police over bills where he expressed support for the residents’ action.
“I support the people of Krobo Odumase 100% for demanding their rights because I will not tolerate such nonsense,” Mr Amewu said.
But reacting to the Minister’s comments, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of PDS, William Boateng, described the comment as “unfortunate” while serving notice that, his outfit would not be intimidated, but work within the law for the good of the people.
To him, Mr Amewu, has little or no information about the disconnection exercise.“We are very disappointed with the Minister for making such a comment; I won’t blame him because he has no idea what’s going on. The people have vowed not to pay, so we will ensure that the right thing is done and the law works,” he said on Accra-based radio station, Neat FM.