The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has urged the government to admit that the days of the much-feared intermittent power outages popular known as ‘dumsor’ are back.
According to the NDC, the handlers of the energy sector must publish a load-shedding timetable to enable citizens to plan appropriately.
Below is a copy of the NDC statement
DUMSOR IS BACK: ADMIT IT AND PUBLISH LOAD-MANAGEMENT TIMETABLE NOW.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) takes notice of the undesirable return of rampant and consistent power outages popularly christened as ”Dumsor”. We wish to register our dismay and discomfiture at the fact that the entire country has been experiencing power outages for months now; yet the Akufo-Addo government has refused to come clean on the true state of affairs as far as this worrying issue is concerned.
Whilst Government spokespersons, including the Energy Minister, have over the period resorted to stonewalling excuses, and sometimes crafty subterfuge in an annoying attempt to explain away genuine concerns of Ghanaians, it has now become as clear as daylight that we are indeed in abnormal times.
The fact of the matter is that, “Dumsor” is back; this has been corroborated by the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP).
It is important for the purposes of recollection, to remind the Ghanaian people of recent litany of explanations proffered by government when this phenomenon began to rear its ugly head a few months ago. We were first told on March 12, 2019, that this problem was as a result of a disruption of the western transmission line and that the challenge was dealt with within 8 hours of its occurrence.
Then, on March 13, 2019, a different narrative emerged through yet another statement after the problem persisted. This time around, the blame was laid on the construction work at the Pokuase interchange which had resulted in the re-routing of another transmission line.
Government initially informed us that this problem was going to last from March 14 to March 19, 2019. Since then, the explanations and rationalization of this problem have varied considerably, depending on which government functionary is speaking.
The NDC reckons that in the situation we find ourselves, the least expected from the Akufo-Addo government is candour and truthfulness to the facts. The managers of the power sub-sector must be sincere and transparent with Ghanaians.
That the country is currently facing a deficit of power supply is a truism, and the earlier this power supply deficit (dumsor) is officially declared, and a load management schedule immediately published, the better it will be for all of us. Our citizens deserve the right, and must be accorded the respect of planning their daily lives in the face of these excruciating challenges.
DISTURBING HAPPENINGS IN THE ENERGY SECTOR.
Whilst Government, through the Energy Ministry and its spokespersons are being economical with the truth, we in the NDC are fully abreast of the disturbing happenings in Ghana’s energy sector and state them as follows:
1. We are aware that the various Utility Companies have accumulated debt post the legacy debt to the tune of about GHS2 billion in just two years. It must be noted that the legacy debt was not occasioned by the erstwhile John Mahama/NDC Government.
This was debt accumulated from the days of President Rawlings through the John Kuffour Government to the last NDC Government, hence the christening ”legacy debt”. This debt has been estimated to be GH10 billion Cedis, according to the Akufo-Addo Government.
2. During the time of President John Dramani Mahama, a financial innovation was created through the Energy Sector Levy Act (ESLA) through which the country rakes in about 3 billion Ghana Cedis annually to settle the legacy debt. Hence the Akufo-Addo government has no excuse in saddling Utility Companies with this current huge debt.
The sad reality however is that ESLA accruals are being mismanaged by this government. In 2017 alone, GHS600 millions of ESLA money was used to pay pension arrears.
We immediately demand a published list of all the Utility Companies which benefited from the Energy Bond that was issued in 2018. The list must include how much each utility company was given and what the outstanding debt is.
3. Currently, almost all our State Owned Enterprises in the Energy Sector are in a precarious financial situation. PDS (formerly ECG) owes Independent Power Producers a colossal amount of about USD$1 Billion, whilst VRA owes Ghana Gas Company an amount of USD$735 million.
VRA is also indebted to ENI Gas to the tune of USD$160 million and Government of Ghana owes GRIDCO through ECG an amount of USD$171 million. This grim situation is having a debilitating effect on the power sector and adversely affecting Ghanaians.
4. The debt situation in the energy sector is being worsened by the continuous depreciation of the Cedi and the mismanagement of the NPP-appointed managers of the utility companies, and the PURC. These factors have hampered the ability of these utility companies to raise the needed money for fuel and other critical parts for their routine maintenance, hence the rampant disruptions in power supply.
5. It is important to note that most of our Power Plants run on both crude and gas, hence the current tie-in works at the western exclave should not be resulting in the power shortage we are experiencing now, particularly as this was a planned activity by Ghana Gas.
Therefore the explanation given by the Ministry of Energy through the CEO of Ghana Gas is simply untenable.
The attempt to also take Journalists to fuel discharging centers in Tema is just for the optics and comes across as a desperate attempt to conceal the truth, which revolves around the fact that we are experiencing Dumsor because of government’s inability to buy Light Crude Oil (LCO) to power our power generation plants.
6. It is important at this stage to remind the Ghanaian people that the erstwhile NDC government inherited a power sector that was saddled with many challenges including, but not limited to fuel insecurity, generation capacity deficit, and the precarious financial positions of the utility companies, among others.
However, these challenges were efficiently dealt with by December 2015 by the Mahama Administration such that generation capacity was increased from a paltry 1,810 MW to 4,137.5 MW.
Also, the Mahama administration secured our fuel sources through the USD$1 Billion investment in the Atuabo gas processing plant which supplies about 100 million standard cubic feet of gas daily to our generation plants. As we mentioned before, the NDC government also introduced ESLA to deal with the indebtedness of the utilities.
It therefore begs the question as to why we are back into “Dumsor”. The answer is simple: we are back in Dumsor because of the Akufo-Addo government’s ineptitude and its mismanagement of the Energy Sector.
The facts available to us on the happenings in our power sector point to a far scarier picture than the Akufo-Addo government is vainly seeking to portray. We therefore demand that governance must be elevated beyond mere rattling of excuses and trying to deodorize serious challenges.
We call on the president and his appointees to confront this issue head-on by admitting that we are back in “Dumsor” and take urgent steps to resolve the situation. While at it, government must immediately publish a load shedding timetable to allow Ghanaians to plan their lives and ameliorate their plight. Ghana deserves better.
SAMMY GYAMFI National Communication Officer, NDC