ECG, PURC engage stakeholders to resolve four-year-old impasse with Krobo consumers
Officials of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) from the Tema Region and the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) have been currently engaging various stakeholders in the Krobo area, particularly, Yilo Krobo and Lower Manya Krobo to resolve a four-year-old impasse that has stalled the work of the power producers in the area.
The two groups have over the past days met with traditional leaders, religious bodies, youth groups, and various civil society organizations on actions taken towards resolving customers’ complaints which led to the disturbances that saw a series of protests, demonstrations, and clashes with police, resulting in several injuries with one fatality.
Grievances of estimated billing, wrongful accumulated bills, overbilling, no meter reading, and bill distribution (yellow) card by the power consumers since 2014 led to a demonstration in Somanya against the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), resulting in damages to the ECG District office in the area.
Another claim is that there is an existing agreement between Kronos and the Nkrumah regime exempting Krobos from paying for electricity over assertions that part of the land on which the Akosombo Dam is located falls within the Krobo area.
The forum included a PowerPoint presentation of the steps taken by the power producers towards bringing to an end the raging problem.
According to the presentation, ECG had held previous engagements since 2017 with various stakeholders as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the problem.
These include a joint communique by management of ECG and chiefs of Krobo Land as well as meetings with Assemblymen and unit committee leaders in Lower Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo Municipal Assemblies.
The Kofi Afewu Committee of inquiry constituted by Management of the ECG to investigate the grievances found evidence of estimated billing, wrongful accumulated bills, overbilling, no meter reading, and bill distribution (yellow) card.
Causes of the challenges were traced to most of the meters installed during the SHEP project in 2012/2013 not passing through the ECG and so it took a long time to identify, map, code, and bill the customers, hence the estimates and accumulation and also software challenges in 2016 during migration of billing system from CBIS to CMS.
To implement the findings, the ECG has agreed to hold stakeholder engagements, hold refresher training programs for its staff, ensure continuous data cleaning exercises, replacement of faulty meters, and engage more meter readers.
The company has also agreed to ring-fence the debt of the affected customers between 2014 and December 2017 to conduct further investigations into the anomalies.
The General Manager for ECG, Tema Region, Mr Emmanuel Tetteh Akinie in an interview said the impasse has affected revenue collection in the area and urged power consumers to pay their bills especially from 2018 to date.
“Whatever it is, the bills must be paid, and everybody pays bills. From 2018 for now, going forward, we say everyone must pay their bills to ensure development because for now, all we receive is what we channel into developments and the more we receive, the more we can ensure development,” said Mr. Akinie
He described the engagements with the stakeholders as “positive” and expressed appreciation to all for their commitment to ensuring a lasting solution to the problem.
Deployment of prepaid meters
The ECG further explained that in line with its metering policy and in keeping with current advancements in metering technology, it is replacing all existing meters in the Krobo District with smart prepaid meters before the end of 2021.
All new service and separate meter connections, according to the company, will be installed with prepaid meters.
It added that extensive customer engagements and education will be conducted prior to the commencement of the deployments of the prepaid meters in the Krobo District.