The lingering impasse between Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the two Krobo Traditional Areas has assumed a volatile state of mistrust in each other.
The ECG, reacting to a threat to its staff in the Krobo District to vacate on Monday, has relocated to Juapong in the Volta Region.
A few hours after packing off, the entire Manya and Yilo Krobo Traditional Areas have been plunged into total darkness, with the Krobos accuse the ECG of a deliberate act of sabotage directed at punishing them, but the state power distributor, on its part, claim that not until they secure police escort to the Krobo area, they would not be in a position to detect what caused the trip in the system.
United Krobo Foundation, a pressure group based in Somanya and Odumase Krobo, on November 22, 2021, embarked on a street protest against the ECG’s planned installation of prepaid meters to homes in the two Krobo Traditional Areas. This was coming against the background of a dispute between the ECG and its customers in Lower Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo over unsettled accumulated bills.
The power distributors came out that its operational areas in the country experienced faulty meter readings between 2014 and 2017, hence, resulting in outrageous bills to her customers. Between 2018 and 2021, ECG claimed to have rectified the system to produce normal bills, which, again, the consumers contested.
The ECG, as a service provider, is allegedly owed an amount of GH¢68,053,431.
The mistrust stems from rumours flying about in the Krobo areas that following the threat issued by United Krobo Foundation, and the planned relocation to Juapong from where it would conduct customer services, the system would be put off.
To the residents of the traditional areas, the blackout since Monday, therefore, goes to confirm the mistrust that had developed between them.
The Chronicle contacted ECG’s Director of Communication, Mr William Boateng, who stated that the staff on the ground at Juapong would be willing to attend to the system problem in the Krobo District, granted there was available police protection, which would meet them at Atimpoku.
The Public Relations Officer of the Manya Krobo Traditional Council, Nene Asada Ahor, who is also the Chief of Akuse, on his part, stated that due to the sensitivity of the situation, the traditional authorities were expected to meet the leadership of ECG in Accra today, Wednesday.
Colonel Festus Aboagye (rtd), a security expert, commenting on the matter, wants the government to step in immediately to halt any further escalation. According to the retired senior army officer, the social contract between ECG and her customers in the two traditional areas must be upheld, and at the same time the roundtable discussion proceeds without delay.
Colonel Aboagye was of the view that hospitals and essential service providers in the areas so affected would need electricity to power their equipment, and that an amicable resolution of the impasse was the way forward.
Meanwhile, the following is the full press statement read by the Managing Director of ECG at a press conference, held yesterday.
I stand on the already established protocols and wish to give my remarks accordingly. I believe we have all heard the narratives, especially the historical background of this whole hullaballoo leading to threats of life of the ECG staff working at the Krobo District.
Let me reiterate and be candid, the ECG has been very tolerant and extremely patient with customers of the Krobo District, and especially the United Krobo Foundation and customers within the Yilo Krobo and Lower Manya Krobo communities.
The challenges we encountered between 2015 and 2016 were across all ECG operational areas when we were transferring customer data from the old CBIS to the new CMS software.
We took our time for years up until 2017, to organise help desk clinics, and took each affected customer in the Krobo District through the ECG billing system, reconciled and validated their bills.
After the successful exercise, whilst some decided to pay their outstanding bills, this youth group (United Krobo Foundation and others) decided to prevent customers from paying, giving all manner of dubious reasons as already stated. This year, to bring a final resolution to the impasse, we decided to ring fence all their debts up to 2017 so that they could pay from 2018 up to date on their negotiated terms.
After numerous painstaking stakeholder engagements, when we thought the agreed roadmap has been accepted by all parties to end the misunderstanding, the youth groups demonstrated and threatened life and property of ECG, to the extent that ECG, and for that matter our staff, cannot undertake their legitimate business peacefully.
It will be recalled that these same youth groups attacked our district office, our staff, a Police station close to our office including burning of a Police pickup vehicle. This clearly demonstrates that their recent threats which was captured on all media platforms, including the direct warning to ECG to vacate their Krobo land cannot be taken for granted.
The continuous emotional and psychological torture of our staff in the Krobo District cannot
be allowed to go on in perpetuity. To protect the lives of our staff which we dare not compromise on, we henceforth will operate the district from Juapong office, and going forward, any faults intervention, or any call to correct any anomaly in the system within the Yilo Krobo and Lower Manya Krobo communities will be dependent on the availability of police escort.
Indeed, it is with a heavy heart that we decided to support the position of the Tema region in protecting the precious lives of our employees. As a customer-oriented organization, we will never renege on our mandate to provide safe, quality, and reliable power supply to all customers within our operational areas, thereby assisting in the socio-economic development of our country.
Our doors will always be opened, and when reason prevails, and the Management of Tema region are convinced that the environment that we have left is safe and harmonious for us to directly operate in these communities, we will not hesitate to give them our approval.
Once again, I wish to end by informing all customers and the general public that we can only sustain this great national asset of Ghana; the ECG, and the entire electricity value chain which is the life blood of industrialisation in this country, by each and every one paying for the electricity we consume in Ghana. Help ECG to serve you better.
Thank you for your attention.
God Bless our Homeland Ghana.