A Former National Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kofi Adams says there was a leadership failure on multiple levels during the unrest in Lower Manya Krobo Municipality over the payment of electricity bills.
The unrest which resulted in protests and riots led to the death of a teenage boy as residents protested a disconnection exercise by the Power Distribution Service (PDS).
On The Big Issue, Mr. Adams lamented that “this is a matter that should not have reached this point.”
The residents claimed they were being overbilled following the expiration of a purported agreement between themselves and the Kwame Nkrumah government for them to have free power for a period after their relocation from the current location of the Akosmbo Dam.
After a week of unrest, PDS waived over GHc 111 million in debt of residents of Lower Manya Krobo Municipality.
After a meeting to address the tensions, a road map emerged indicating that PDS has reduced the debt from GHS 195, 725,500 down to GHc84,625,624.87.
But following the loss of life, Mr. Adams said this intervention was too late.
“You wait for lives to be lost, people to be maimed, some injuries to become permanent before you now cut off GHc100 million. That is a leadership thing.”
He also said the delays in addressing the problem was because some institutions pertinent institutions like the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) have been politicised.
“The PURC, that would have moved in to deal with this situation has been turned into a political institution. They went after the leadership of that institution; Nana Yaa Jantuah [former Director of Public Relations and External Affairs at the PURC] and co, they went after them.”
PDS is a private entity that took over the distribution of power from the Electricity Company of Ghana after a five-year Power Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States of America Government Agency.
Mr. Adams noted that the PDS disconnection exercise was a reminder of the failings of the old regime.
“It is not that ECG didn’t know how to collect bills. It is these same Ghanaians. Now you have certain management at the top that thinks that at all cost, collect [the debt]. If they are not paying, disconnect them. Let them be in darkness.”
Mr. Adams also had criticism for the Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfour’s tone during the turmoil.
The Minister notably said, “the only thing that is universally free is free SHS not electricity.”
But Mr. Adams insisted those remarks were insensitive.
“The comment by the regional Minister is also very unfortunate. How do you say that we promised you free SHS and not free electricity… leadership must also be careful with their comments in times like this.”