Electricity has become a part of our daily lives and one cannot imagine a world without it. Homes, schools, hospitals, offices and industries are running because of electricity. Electricity is, arguably, one of the greatest inventions.
But electricity can be very dangerous when it is not handled with utmost care, since careless use can lead to burns or even electrocution. At other times there can be fire outbreaks when electrical wires or appliances become overheated.
Over the years, Ghana has experienced fire outbreaks that have caused the nation huge sums of money, properties and human lives. Hardly a day passes without news of a fire outbreak in one part of Ghana or another. In 2013 alone, it was estimated that about 11,000 Ghanaians were affected by fire, while about $7 million was lost.
Ghanaians have fresh memories of the fires that engulfed the Kumasi Central Market, the Ministry of Information building, the loading gantry of the Tema Oil Refinery, the offices of the Electoral Commission, the Ridge residence of former President Rawlings, the Central Medical Stores in Tema, as well as many private residences around the country.
It has been established that some of the main causes of fire outbreaks in Ghana are faulty electrical wiring of homes and offices, poorly designed and constructed electrical circuits and the use of substandard electrical devices.
It is, therefore, not surprising but very alarming that only seven out of the 204 electrical items tested by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) at Opera Square and Zongo Lane in Accra conformed to the authority’s standards. This means that the failure rate amounted to 96 per cent.
The disclosure is more worrying because the tests were conducted on electrical cables, switches, bulbs and extension boards, all of which are basic home devices. In many instances, these items are smuggled into the country or assembled by people whose knowledge about electrical connections is low.
Again, such acts of smuggling have dire consequences on the country’s drive to woo foreign investors into the country, as the ordinary buyer would patronise these smuggled substandard goods because of their generally low prices.
The Daily Graphic agrees with the Director General of the GSA that the smuggling of substandard goods into the country presents a crisis for the country. The situation thus calls for radical approaches to nip it in the bud to safeguard lives and properties in the country.
We encourage the GSA to continue with its monitoring and inspection to clear such items from the system. As already intended by the GSA, there is the need to prosecute such nation wreckers and stiffer punishment meted out to them to serve as a deterrent to others.
As the standards authority looks to arrest and prosecute the smugglers of these items, we should also look within, as there is the possibility that there are people assembling these items in the country without any supervision. In this vein, we urge the relevant authorities to identify those who are producing these items and put in interventions that will bridge the knowledge gap, so that they can produce to standard. We believe this will contribute to reduce the unemployment rate, while at the same time cut down on the amount of foreign exchange spent on imports.
The country, through the GSA and other relevant bodies, certainly has to act, and it should be now.