Truth, they say, is bitter but it remains the stark truth. This is the bitter pill that workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) have had to swallow since Monday.
This was after the Minister of Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, had told the whole world about how inherent inefficiencies at the ECG were costing the state power distributor revenues due it. Since the minister’s assertions and the sharp rebuttal by the local union of the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU), the issue has become murkier with the United States Embassy insisting that its itemised bills had not been presented to it by the ECG for payment.
The Daily Graphic wants to state categorically that we do not intend to pick on the ECG, and its workers but the sheer importance of that state institution and the essential services it has been mandated to provide, require much scrutiny from every citizen.
We think that the ECG workers were too quick in reacting to their sector minister’s position. Even if there was a disagreement between them, the workers could have charted the path of peace and dialogue.
This is especially important because the power distributor cannot claim to be providing the public the best of services so as to embolden them to react in such a manner.
ECG response time to customer distress calls to fix faults, lead times to the supply of meters, convenient access to prepaid power are all issues that the ECG ranks poorly in. If for nothing at all, the workers should have taken into consideration the dictum that ‘the customer is always right’.
It is important to emphasise that Ghana’s Power Compact with the United States’ Millennium Challenge Account (MCC), which is expected to inject enormous investments into the power sector, will be spearheaded by the ECG.
This requires that challenges and inefficiencies that it is currently facing should be dealt with swiftly. Fact is, high power losses, lack of commitment to the collection of revenues, slow response to customer demands and the likes do not make ECG attractive. These challenges have informed the need for a concessionaire to manage the facility and revive it to meet the power distribution needs of the country in an efficient manner.
Like most divestitures or privatisation of state institutions, the workers of ECG have vehemently resisted the attempt to give out the facility to a concessionaire, instead of allowing cool heads to prevail and getting ready for opportunities that may come with the proposed model.
This pristine attachment to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) does not augur well for their upkeep. If anybody doubts this, let them publish the financial reports of all SOEs; the picture will be identical of their sorry state. They are in distress.
It is in this vein that the Daily Graphic condemns the attitude of the ECG workers towards the Energy Minister. It is disrespectful, un-Ghanaian and rather portrays a picture that as a group, the ECG workers are afraid of their own shadows.
We want to advise that in future when workers of any institution find themselves in similar situations, they should seek the path of dialogue and peace and not arrogance and disrespect.