Our elders say, and I believe it is true, that “if your tummy hurts and you do not squeeze your face/show your teeth, no one will know that your tummy is hurting.”
Over the last five years or more, Ghanaians have been subjected to one of the worst load shedding exercises in our history. There have even been times when the timetable developed by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to ensure the smooth implementation of this unfortunate exercise has not been followed, or jettisoned half way into its implementation by the same institution which developed it.
The negative effects of these power outages, christened load shedding or load management cannot be emphasised enough. Its economic cost to the nation and the discomfort it creates in the entire nation is nothing good to write home about. But in all this, my biggest worry has been the attitude of the people of Ghana towards this load shedding. I am yet to feel any real anger brewing in the citizens over this unfortunate act.
I feel this load shedding fiasco is man-made, and until the citizens register their displeasure, we may well live with it forever. I am well aware that at some points, some residents in certain communities who felt this exercise was becoming too much decided to attack staff of the ECG, but that is not what am referring to, and in all honesty, I feel such attacks were unwarranted and misplaced.
In my article “What Ghana needs is a Ministry of Common Sense, not Ministry of Power”, I argued that “I do not understand why ECG boss should be the one being axed when he is not involved in electricity generation, or a new Ministry of Power being created to “waste” state resources, when we seem overwhelmed with a problem.
My suspicion is that the government is not being truthful to the people of Ghana as to the real reasons behind these frequent power outages. Our fathers say that “if your mother is dead and you say she is asleep, when her corpse starts to decompose, we will all notice it.” Until our government comes clean on the real challenges in the energy sector and how to deal with them, we will keep going round in circles and still not find a solution to the almighty “dum so dum so.”
In that respect, what Ghana needs is a Ministry of Common Sense because, to me, that is our only problem in this country. We cannot expect to do things the same way and expect different results. If government institutions and some private companies owe the ECG millions of Ghana cedis in tariffs, how can we expect the company to have adequate resources to perform to the optimum? There are also still several areas in the country where illegal connection is the order of the day, and it is not as if these areas are not known to those in authority.
Common sense is what we need to realise that until we treat the ECG as a profit-making company, we will never have enough money to invest in the power sector, even if we create a hundred more ministries of power. Several companies and government institutions owe the ECG and Ghana Water Company, and steps should be taken to recoup that money to invest into the power sector now.
The same is true here. The problem with power generation is a lack of resources of which the government is partly to blame. Also, the ECG’s inability to recoup electricity tariffs from government institutions, as well as some big companies, is also to blame.
The type of anger I refer to is the one where citizens tell their government enough is enough. I am talking about non-violent direct action against the government. Not against the ECG, VRA or GRIDCO, but against those we pay taxes to.
Until we let them know our taxes should be put to good use, we will never see an end to dum so dum so. According one ECG Director, it will cost the nation around 1.5 billion to eliminate the electricity challenges for good. I argue that although this money is huge, if we actually put our taxes to good use, cut out corruption, recoup monies people owe the ECG, we can certainly raise the money to end dum so dum so.
We are in a New Year, and I expect every Ghanaian’s New Year resolution to include putting dum so sum so behind us forever. This country has to develop, and we cannot achieve such levels of development that will make us a great nation if dum so dum so persists. It is up to us to let our government know we do not want dum so dum so.
Until I write to you again, good bye for now.