A spade or digging instrument

Author: Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh

The world is not interested in the storms you encountered but whether you brought in the ship. — Raul Armesto.

Euphemism it is that makes us describe a cemetery as an interment facility and encourage financial institutions to describe their bad debts as non- performing assets, otherwise what is making it difficult for the government to admit that we have returned to the era of dumsor. On a daily basis, we experience power outages and sometimes for days, there is no power at all. For the small-scale business people such as carpenters, hairdressers and electricians, the effect of the power outages is very debilitating.

It will serve a better purpose if the electricity service providers draw up timetables for power supplies to allow for planning. It would be more meaningful for the self-employed who depend on the availability of electricity to know the schedule so that they will programme themselves to meet the exigencies of the time.

 I was in Kumasi for the weekend and for two days there was no power. A carpenter had been engaged to construct a wardrobe and needed electricity to spray it. However, because there was no electricity, he could not do anything for the two days. He could not leave the place either because he was not sure when power would come. He remained stuck but unproductive. He could have been saved the frustrating ordeal if there was a planned schedule for power supply.    

We do not have any idea as to when electricity supplies would be stable. Now we know that the problem is not about installed capacity. We have capacity to generate more power than we can consume. If we do not have electricity it is because we do not have the raw material to feed the generation machines. It is more about the lack of capital to buy crude oil to power the stations, some of which could work on either crude oil or natural gas.

For now, we do not know either who, between government spokespersons and the public relations units of the gas suppliers from Nigeria, is telling us the truth about the situation of gas supplies. For while those who speak for the government continue to blame saboteurs who have destroyed the gas pipelines, the suppliers maintain that the pipelines are secure. There are also suggestions that we are deeply indebted for the gas supplied and that the suppliers are reluctant to continue to supply gas to us mindful of the fact that many times we default after negotiations to meet our debt commitments when payments are due.

We can delude ourselves that we are not in crisis, but the reality is there for all to see. When power is available it cannot be hidden. So then, it will serve a better and more functional purpose if we swallow our pride and let Ghanaians know that we have a loadshedding regime. After all, we are unable to produce to meet national requirement. There is thus shortage in supply which warrants rationalisation of the available power so that what is available would be equitably distributed and shared for all consumers.

As things stand, both the government and the electricity producers are losing credibility with consumers. While some are blaming the government because government functionaries have taken over the responsibility of the electricity companies, we are not hearing from the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Volta River Authority, whether they feel comfortable with the unpredictable situation.

Although the electricity consumers association has demanded a  dumsor  timetable, because we lack a potent and formidable consumer protection association and our people are not used to demonstrations to demand better service, there has been no response.After all, a schedule on power rationing will give credibility to the service providers. For consumers, it would only remind  them that they will get power at the designated periods only. Since a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush, consumers would be greatly relieved.

If service improves consumers would be appreciative of more hours than advertised.  No one would split heads when that happens. It is only when they get less than what they have been promised that there could be a problem.

Ghanaians are very accommodating about matters of this nature. The government must at all times act to win our trust rather than play the ostrich.

We must declare a dumsor regime and not pretend that all is well. We have to call a spade by its name rather than a digging instrument. We have to carry the people with us rather than lose them for lack of certainty about our reality. One thing is clear. Our problem with electricity is not capacity but raw materials for sustained generation.