The blanket of darkness that hangs over Accra at night will soon give way to a sheath of light, as the government prepares to roll out a massive streetlight re-fitting project in the city to enhance its accolade as the gateway to West Africa.
Apart from beautification purposes, the government intends to use the project as a security strategy to fight night crime in Accra by throwing light on the nocturnal activities of criminals, thus beating them to retreat.
A deputy minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr John Jinapor, who announced the initiative in Accra last Saturday, said his ministry had set up a team to execute the Accra streetlight re-fitting project.
Although he did not give details in respect of the cost involved, the time schedule and the contractors involved in the project, he was nevertheless upbeat about Accra becoming a showpiece at night for the world to behold.
“I believe Ghana is the gateway to West Africa, so it’s proper to improve the lighting system in Accra,” he said, at the end of a three-day training programme on the oil, gas and power industry in Ghana for journalists.
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Oil and gas training
The three-day oil and gas training programme was organised by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, with Stephen Dow, an energy law lecturer at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) of the University of Dundee in Scotland, as the main resource person.
The objective was to equip journalists with the requisite knowledge in the oil and gas industry to enhance their reportage on same.
The training programme culminated in the formation of an oil and gas press corps with Lawrence Markwei of the Ghanaian Times elected as the dean.
Darkness in Accra
Many roads in Accra, notably, the Accra-Tema Motorway and the N1 Highway, are without streetlights, greatly compromising their safety to motorists and pedestrians who use them at night.
Some of the streetlights have been knocked down by vehicles, while others have had their cables stolen, rendering them useless.
With the city overwhelmed by such darkness, some criminals have taken undue advantage of the situation to strike at their victims, even during previously-considered safe hours.
The darkness and its consequences to safety have combined to snuff the beauty and night life out of Accra, but the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is seeking to revive them by injecting some power into the streetlights in Accra.
It is, however, not oblivious of the challenges involved, such as maintenance and stealing of cables, as Mr Jinapor appealed to the media to help address those problems in their reportage.
Subsidy on kerosene, solar lamps
The recent increase in the price of kerosene as a result of the removal of government subsidy on the product has raised concerns among users, especially rural communities, who use it to power their lamps.
Mr Jinapor said the removal of subsidy on kerosene was not intended to put a burden on users but was based on some realities.
He explained that the targeted beneficiaries, mostly rural communities, were not enjoying the subsidy because they received only 20 per cent of it, while the remaining 80 per cent, unfortunately, found its way to fuel stations for sale at commercial rate.
Mr Jinapor said the government, therefore, thought it was more prudent to redirect the subsidy on kerosene to solar lamps, contending that the latter would serve the needs of such communities better than the former.
He said apart from not generating smoke to cause health problems, solar lamps were brighter than kerosene-powered lamps.
He said additional advantage was that solar lamps could also be used to charge mobile phones, a need he found imperative in a country with a high and increasing rate of mobile phone penetration.
Mr Jinapor said the government had so far supplied 20,000 solar lamps to communities across the country, adding that with an increased effort, it could hit the 500,000 target very soon.
He said said the idea of forming a press corps on oil and gas was very commendable because it would enhance reportage on the oil and gas industry.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Mr Edward Bawa, said the formation of the press corps was not intended to make journalists sing the praise of the government.
Rather, he explained, it was meant to help journalists better understand issues on oil and gas to make their work and that of the ministry easier, adding that the ultimate aim was to ensure transparency in the oil and gas industry.
By Kofi Yeboah/Daily Graphic/Ghana