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End the Kroboland-PDS melee

BY: Daily Graphic

The Daily Graphic recalls that in January 2004, some residents of the Volta River Authority (VRA) resettlement communities served notice that they would stop paying electricity bills until the VRA fulfilled its obligation of paying compensation to the affected communities.

That was not the only time some of those communities had mentioned the issue of compensation, and for some weeks now there has been tension in the Krobo area over the same subject, with some officers of the PDS, who had gone to the Yilo area of Kroboland to carry out a disconnection exercise, being assaulted by the disgruntled citizens.

The Daily Graphic is worried that the Krobo Foundation that is championing the cause of compensation has not been able to produce any document on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was purported to have been reached between the VRA and the people of Krobo.

It is also baffling that, if really there was an MoU, why did the late Konor (Paramount Chief) of Manya Krobo, Oklemekuku Azzu Mate-Kole, who was a board chairman of the VRA, not see the need to ensure that the provisions of the MoU were invoked but allowed the VRA to short-change his people?

It is instructive to ask that if there was such an MoU, why was the late Konor himself paying his electricity bills?

It is also informative that other riverine communities such as Akwamufie are paying for electricity.

In a democracy, people must exercise their rights, hence the Daily Graphic will be the first to jump to the defence of the people of Kroboland if they are able to produce the MoU.

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We must remember that the distribution and selling of electric power are now in the hands of a private entity.

As a private company, the PDS needs money to be able to meet its operational costs such as buying and servicing equipment, including transformers, and meeting staff cost.

It will be counter-productive for us, therefore, to expect the PDS to provide quality uninterrupted services while, at the same time, we refuse to pay for electricity used.

It is, however, good news that some citizens have settled their outstanding bills; it is our prayer that the Krobo Foundation will impress on the rest to follow suit.

But we admit that there is tension following from the disconnection exercise and the resultant assault and arrests.

It is important to ensure that peace and tranquillity is restored to the area.

In this vein, we call on the Asafoatsemi (divisional chiefs) of the area, who we know wield a lot of respect and influence, to step in to douse the flame.

Again, the Lower Manya and the Yilo Municipal assemblies should table the issue at their meetings and brainstorm for a lasting solution to the problem.

We also suggest town hall meetings among the assemblies, the PDS, the traditional authorities and the leadership of the Krobo Foundation to sensitise and educate the people on the need to pay their bills.

With such goodwill, we implore the PDS to have a relook at the alleged outrageous bills presented to consumers, while we urge the citizens to present their bills for reconciliation when they are asked to do so.

As the people show a commitment to settle their bills, the PDS should be magnanimous enough to stagger bills the citizens owe over a period to make it easier for them to clear their arrears.

Certainly, these are not beyond us and we should be able to bring the impasse to an end.