About 700 power consumers on Wednesday massed up on the premises of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) Project Office in Accra to express concern over their inability to buy credit for their prepaid meters.
It was a scene of confusion and anger, followed by a barrage of criticism of the operations of the only power distribution company in the country.
While some of the angry customers called for the sacking of the top management of the ECG, others rained curses and insults on the organisation and welcomed its planned concession to a private entity.
“Sell the ECG and sack all unproductive members of staff’’ was the chorus on the lips of many of the consumers.
“All of them should be booted out. I do not think a private company will allow its customers to go through this pain,’’ Francis Atiso, a resident of Dansoman, told the Daily Graphic.
The ECG customers from different suburbs of Accra converged on the ECG Project Office near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange after they had been directed there by ECG officials in the suburbs for anomalies on customers’ prepaid cards to be rectified.
Almost all those who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they had been sleeping in darkness since last Friday due to their inability to upload their prepaid electricity cards from vendors and ECG offices.
The prepaid cards, they said, were not recognised by the electronic system that controlled the prepaid purchasing system and that, in most cases, the system classified their cards as error.
The customers formed long queues as they desperately tried to get their prepaid cards repaired by workers of the ECG.
Most of them, however, waited for hours without being attended to and the thought of spending another day in darkness made them lose their cool.
It was a charged atmosphere as the customers started shouting and calling on the ECG staff, whom they claimed had “barricaded” themselves in their offices, to come out and serve them.
“I went to buy credit but was told there was a code on it and that I must bring it here for it to be reset. But I have been in a queue for four hours and I guess I have to go home and sleep in darkness again,’’ Richardson Appiah, a customer from Sowutuom, said.
Some of the customers intimated that they would resort to illegal connections if the ECG failed to adequately address the problem.
“If the company does not want its customers to pay for its services, then we will resort to illegal connections. A serious company with proper management will never entertain such inefficiencies,” a young woman who gave her name only as Ama, a resident of Agege, said.
With the crowd of customers growing by the minute and the ECG staff overstretched to their limits, the situation could have easily degenerated into a riot had it not been for the timely intervention of the Ghana Police Service.
About 20 policemen were dispatched to the scene to restore law and order, but some of the customers were not enthused about that development.
“So now I have to be chased and harassed by a policeman just because I want the ECG to fix a problem associated with my prepaid card. It is really a pity,’’ James Dua, a resident of Chorkor, lamented.
Meanwhile, in an interview, the Public Relations Officer of the ECG, Mr William Boateng, said engineers of the company were working around the clock to resolve the issue.
“Our engineers are working day and night to solve the problem and normalise the situation,” he said.
According to him, the problem started last Friday when one of its servers crashed and failed to respond to customers’ data on its old build, operate and transfer (BOT) prepayment system.
He said customers on its new smart prepayment system, which allowed credit to be bought online, had not been affected.
The problem, he said, only affected customers in four districts in the company’s Accra West Region, namely, Kaneshie, Dansoman, Korle Bu and Achimota.
On how the ECG was resolving the issue, Mr Boateng explained that affected customers’ data were being migrated onto a new server, but due to the number of people involved, there was a little delay.
He, however, assured the affected customers that they could deposit their cards at the ECG Project Office with their telephone numbers, so that after the problem had been rectified, they would be called to come for them.
“We will work on all the cards, but we also advise people not to mass up at the project office but rather leave their cards with us and we will work on them,” he said.