By Charles Neequaye, a Journalist
The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), on Monday, March 20, 2023, commenced a massive disconnection exercise across the country, in an effort to recover an outstanding debt of about GHc5.7 billion owed the company by customers. These customers or consumers of electricity include some state and private institutions, prominent individuals, as well as some key personalities in the corridors of power.
The company had all these while, asked its customers to pay up their debt or be disconnected from the national grid. According to the ECG, it risks shutting down completely, if it is unable to clear an outstanding $1 billion US Dollar debt owed to some Independent Power Producers (IPP). This situation has forced the company to aggressively embark on the revenue mobilization drive and has cautioned that any halt in the on-going exercise could be dire for the company and the country as a whole. The exercise has been going on smoothly, since it was launched on Monday and some reasonable amount has been recovered from some defaulters.
The Managing – Director of the ECG, Samuel Dubik Mahama, has explained that the ongoing revenue mobilization exercise, was not politically motivated and that the accusation that it was being targeted at some party’s political base were unfounded, needless and should be treated with the utmost contempt. Meanwhile, the Managing Director has revealed that he has received calls from some power brokers, politicians and friends to halt the disconnection exercise.
These threatening calls, some believe, are intended to cow the MD into submission in the face of the challenges facing the company. It is a fact, that the utility providers, especially electricity and water companies in the country, are saddled with huge amounts of debt owed by customers, especially government institutions and state-owned enterprises and some political office holders, who for many years have failed to settle their indebtedness. Recently, there were reports that the ECG was finding it difficult to trace the Directors of 23 companies that are indebted to it, to the tune of millions of Ghana Cedis. The 23 companies, which are mostly steel firms, are not currently operating, but are part of 27 companies, indebted to the tune of GHc27 million. The ECG informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament when it appeared before it recently, that it would seek the help of the National Security, especially the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), to help trace the Directors behind those defaulting companies.
There are some government ministries and departments, as well other state agencies still owing the ECG. Retrieving even half of the amount will somehow allow the company to stand on its feet to meet customers’ demand. It is therefore, fascinating and nauseating that efforts by the Management of the ECG to recover this huge debt are being thwarted by so-called power brokers and some politicians, through threats of phone calls to the Managing Director, to halt the disconnection. The question is, should it halt or stop the disconnection so that the company will collapse or remain indebted to others? It must be made clear that the ECG is not a “Father Christmas” to supply electricity to consumers or customers free of charge. The company needs money to rehabilitate and modernize its obsolete equipment to improve and be efficient in the time and age that we ourselves as a people and country, as well as pay its debt to suppliers. Apart from settling debts owed to some IPP’s, they need to continue to be in business, for the benefit of everyone. That is why the Managing Director should stand firm and ignore all vile threats from any faceless politician and individuals and go ahead with what is deemed fit to recover the debts. He should not allow any amount of threats from any quarter to frustrate him and any staff of the company from carrying their legitimate mandate.
Those power brokers and politicians who are threatening the Managing Director or other staff with phone calls must stop it and any such action must also cease forthwith and rather settle their indebtedness to the ECG as quickly as possible, since they are not getting anywhere with their vile threats. If you owe the company, kindly pay them so that they can give you better services and stop these unnecessary threats.