PURC, ECG banter needless — Give people reliable power
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PURC, ECG banter needless — Give people reliable power

A couple of weeks ago, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) imposed a hefty fine of GH¢5.9 million on the governing board of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) who served from the start of the year until March 18, 2024, citing a breach of Regulation 39 of L.I. 2413, mandating advance notice to consumers for power supply interruptions.

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It followed a consistent back and forth between the regulator and the ECG after the latter failed to heed a directive to publish a load-shedding timetable to enable the public, particularly businesses, to plan their operations to avoid further losses and breakdown in equipment.

Meanwhile, the board of ECG has strongly objected to fines imposed by the PURC over the company's failure to provide a load-shedding timetable.

In a letter sent to PURC on April 17, legal representatives for the board argued that the commission lacked the equivalent powers of the High Court to levy fines. 

They emphasised that board members, not directly involved in day-to-day operations, should not bear personal liability for management decisions.

The lawyers further contended that fines were imposed without giving the board an opportunity to present their case, violating principles of natural justice, hence the board's refusal to accept personal responsibility for operational decisions, stating that the Commission's order imposing regulatory charges was unlawful and without jurisdiction.

While the Graphic Business would not want to wade into the legalities or otherwise of the fine and its subsequent rejection, we are of the strong belief that both the regulator and the power distributor are not only being highly insensitive to the plight of electricity consumers but are also washing their ‘dirty linen’ in public.

It must be made clear that consumers of electricity are going through very hard times, worsening their already bad situation caused by the harsh economic conditions which have sunk many businesses and heavily suffocating the ones trying hard to survive the turmoil.

This drama between the regulator and the power distributor is shameful as it brings to the fore, the lack of respect for authority as well as an admission of the challenges in the power sector which, if not addressed with tact could further help to sink the economy even further.

The paper has tracked the various commentaries and complaints from the public since the beginning of what we can best describe as an ‘ugly banter’ between the two parties and the indication is that the general public is disintersted in this back and forth but rather would they have consistent and reliable power. 

The alternative, at least, should be a notice to them that provides timelimes and days when consumers should expect outages. This is just to help them to plan their activities.

To paint a little picture of the gravity of the numerous power outages on businesses, we want to bring to the fore, how owners of thousands of small businesses such as hairdressers, vulcanisers, dressmakers, coldstore operators among others, are losing out because of the incessant power outages which have reached an alarming proportion in recent times. 

Many other businesses that can afford plants to power their operations are now reeling under increased operational cost due to the rising prices of fuel at the pumps coupled with the prolonged power outages.

To the PURC and the ECG, we must say that the fight is needless and does not bring any solutions, let alone bring relief to the suffering masses. 

It is the hope of the Graphic Business that the banter will cease henceforth and the right things done to solve the problem at hand.

We demand leadership and a clear and pragmatic road map to end what has the potency to throw the government’s own macroeconomic projections out of gear because the problem at stake is worse than what we are being made to see it.

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