Forty businesses in the Tema metropolis have been found to have engaged in illegal power connection.
Seventeen of them were said to have consumed 234,012 kilowatts units per hour of electricity estimated at GH¢388, 446. 77.
The businesses included cold stores, hotels, barbering shops, drinking spots, pubs and supermarkets.
The alleged theft came to light when a special team from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), with support from the police, undertook a night operation to check illegal power connection.
Organised widespread theft of electricity continues to be a long-standing problem working against the efforts of the ECG despite the deployment of its prepaid metering system.
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Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Revenue Protection Manager of the Tema Region of the ECG, Mrs Zita Kyei-Gyamfi, said the operation was carried out after the company detected that some of its customers were not purchasing power, which was affecting sales, while system losses were on the increase.
She said at the end of the second day of the week-long exercise, 90 customers were visited out of which 40 were found to have engaged in illegal connections, including tampering with their metering system and by-passing the source of power supply.
“It was found that they took advantage of our non-working hours to engage in the illegality. They know we do not work in the night, and so they connect to power illegally at night. Because of that when we monitor during the day, we do not find any anomalies,” she said.
So far 17 of the businesses have been billed with the power consumed illegally and were making arrangements to pay.
They include Subin Valley Hotel, Step One Drinking Spot, New York Spot all at Community Seven and T-Havana, an events centre and night club at Community Nine.
Mrs Kyei-Gyamfi said some residences were also visited and were found to have connected power illegally.
To pursue the criminal aspect of the actions, she said the cases had since been handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
The General Manager of the Tema Region of the ECG, Mr Joseph M. Forson, said power theft was a huge challenge and so “we will go after installations and customers who do it. It is out of greed that they want to shortchange the system.”
He said the company suffered revenue losses often occasioned by tampering of metres, especially in the area where there was increased commercial and industrial activities.
The first two days of the exercise, in his view, served as “an eye opener and will not be an exercise in futility. We are going to continue, and we are going to name and shame the customers who engage in power theft.”
Mr Forson said the exercise was not intended to destroy the businesses of private operators but “at the end of the day, ECG buys the power from its suppliers and has a responsibility to account and reduce system losses.”
He urged the businesses to be responsible by allowing the energy to go through their metres and be recorded for effective billing.
As part of the strategies to curb the incidence of power theft, he said the ECG would extend its scope of revenue protection at the district level by building the capacity of its personnel in the district offices to be alert to address issues of metre tampering.
He did not rule out the possibility of officials of the ECG conniving with businesses to steal power and cautioned that "anyone who is a worker of ECG must understand the changing trend. It would be better they respond positively and abide by the ethics and not condone or connive to ruin the company.”