Unpardonable utility interruptions. When will we see respite?

BY: Vicky Wireko

To date, I have not heard any credible explanation as to why some parts of Accra West have been given such raw deal by the utility companies, water and electricity respectively, in the last fortnight. 

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At a time when they have squeezed the last from us in the name of realistic tariffs, our electricity and water supply has become incredibly irritating.

 

Water and electricity supply


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A fortnight ago, some parts of Accra West suffered four days of no water running through our taps.  Before then, consumers had been experiencing 24 hours of no water, at least, once a week.  Though not acceptable, 24 hours could be accommodating but not 96 hours in these times of harmattan dust.

Then came last Wednesday.  Power went off about eight times intermittently within very short spells of time.  It got so irritating for those of us who were working from home.  The power interruptions were surprisingly coming sometimes within intervals of five to 10 minutes. 

Finally at 7p.m, power went off and we had to sleep in the dark.  So why could they not save us our gadgets at the outset by warning us or cutting off right at the beginning? 

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Power was restored fully the following morning but by mid-morning on Thursday, we were off again until late evening.  Our nightmares were not ended when on Friday we went off again after a couple of short on-and-off interruptions.

Having enjoyed some respite all day on Saturday, however, we suffered four power cuts within 10 minutes intervals last Sunday before we finally got stabilised power around 7p.m.  Incredible recipe for damaging electrical gadgets and if we are not lucky, it could spark off fire outbreaks too.

No apologies for undesirable services

So what is our crime?  Sadly, no one has come out to tell us anything. It is unacceptable and indeed unfair for consumers to be asked to pay higher tariffs for utilities and continuously be slapped with this undesirable service.  One is left feeling that there is something fundamentally amiss and the truth gets pushed down the bottle with a stork each time.

For critical service providers such as the utilities and on whose supplies many lives are dependent, it is only fair that consumers get prewarnings if interruption of services is going to be experienced at all.  No, consumers do not get that respect because there are no other options to select from or switch on to as some of us have done a few times with our Internet or mobile phone service providers and still counting new ones coming on to the market.

Almost two years of dumsor left many household appliances damaged and with some joy, we have welcomed the end of that bad phase.  Barely two months down the line, what do we see?  We see intense damage to our repaired or replaced electrical appliances.  We are witnessing unannounced and unexplained short spells of power on and then off.  Apologies are lost in our vocabulary.

Respite

And so we ask, when will the consumer of utilities have finality to rude interruptions and when do we see some respite coming our way?  It seems to me that the suppliers of both water and electricity have now run out of stories to plead their cases. 

If increases in tariffs at the level the consumer is facing currently is not able to provide the expected improvements, then it is true, as argued by some in time past that there is no hope for the consumer unless and until the service provision ia opened to third parties. 

Surely, consumers of utilities must be given a chance to try other service providers.

As it stands now, two of the most critical services needed by almost all the citizenry, no matter the geographical location, are performing abysmally.  Where can the consumer turn to for respite?  We need interventions now.  The stories have just been one too many.

No consumer, dutifully paying their bills, sometimes pre-financing their service providers, deserves even a fraction of the type of service and unfair games we are currently experiencing with the utility providers.  It is time we introduced competition into the system. 

If nothing at all, competition gives suppliers a run for their money’s worth and some respite to consumers.

 

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