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General News of Monday, 31 March 2003

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

"Huhudious" acts at VRA

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power two years, three months ago, with ?zero tolerance for corruption? as its watchword and that principle landed former Youth and Sports Minister, Mallam Yussif Issa, in trouble.

He was alleged to have caused financial loss to the state. Insha Allahu, as he was popularly called, claimed that $45,000.00 meant for the senior national football team, the Black Stars, was stolen and his conduct was perceived as an abomination; he was dragged before the Fast Track Court and jailed.

The Kufuor administration is believed to be pursuing that objective. Over the past nine months, the Volta River Authority (VRA) has paid ?45.2 billion (US$4.5 million,) representing nine months? rental fees for the Strategic Reserve Plant (SRP), which has been lying idle at Tema.

The monthly rental payments of $500,000 began in July, last year and up to date, the plant, which presence is to complement hydro electricity produced from Akosombo and the Kpong dams as well as the Aboadze thermal plant, cannot function.

Information pieced together has it that the chief executive officer (CEO) of the VRA himself, Dr. Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby, alias ?Tarzan,? went to negotiate for the plant to be brought down without any engineer accompanying him.

Reports are that the fuel that was imported into the country but was rejected by the consultant because it was of wrong specification has been sent to South Africa for re-testing.

Take note that as of April 1, this year, a number of transfers are going to take place at the VRA, which are personal decisions of Dr. Wereko-Brobby.

Expect Harriet Wilson, director of Human Resource to Material and Procurement, while the director of Systems Transmission, a certain Wiafe, goes to head Transport and Surag becomes director of Systems Transmission. Ike Aidoo, from Transport, becomes the Human Resource boss.

Some of these transfers are seen as the CEO?s show of gratitude to some ?loyal servants,? a few described as square pegs in round holes.

His ?closeness? to Harriet Wilson, for instance, comes to focus and her being put at sensitive Material and Procurement could become a conduit for many things.

The Public Affairs will be merging with Management Information, totally crippling the already toothless department.

As morale among VRA staff all over the country dwindles, ?Tarzan? who boastfully proclaims that VRA is like his bedroom, which he can lock, put the key in his pocket and open it back, as and when he likes and not even President Kufuor can say anything, has thrown procedure of doing things to the dogs.

The norm is that only senior staff and management personnel are given official cars and drivers but a telephone operator, for reasons best known to the CEO, has an official vehicle and a driver assigned to her to the fury of even senior staff, but who can comment?

As the feeling among staff of the power generators is for government to immediately interdict ?Tarzan,? who abandoned his United Ghana Movement (UGM) political party and is now prospering at the expense of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, paving way for forensic audit into his ?empire,? as the sun rises and sets, strange things continue to happen at the place.

The VRA is said to be sponsoring, at the School of Mass Communication, the education of someone alleged to be an informant to the CEO, even though this person has gone to smash two corporate vehicles without even a query.

Is it also true that having been treated ?fairly? by a lady when he visited Takoradi recently, the VRA boss has ignored employment regulations and employed her without an interview?

While staff remain in fear and intimidation as a result of alleged ?informant system? that operates at VRA at a fee, there is the general tendency that a state of uneasy calm reigns supreme and that the consequences could be anybody?s guess.

At the beginning of the year, 10,000 pieces of calendars were printed and distributed to schools and hospitals.

People whose lands were acquired to construct the two dams are wallowing in abject poverty, yet to receive even a pesewa as compensation. Halting most of their ward?s education, it is strange to learn that scholarship packages available at the elite Akosombo International School are made available to students from Kumasi and politicians, leaving those who gave up their lands.

School fees for day students at the school, our investigations revealed, were unilaterally raised to ?800,000 per term by Tarzan without consulting the board, and thus compelling most VRA staff to withdraw their wards to other schools because they cannot afford the high fees.

Recently, an Accra court sentenced a security man who worked at his Cantonment residence, to four years in jail for stealing his bedsheet.

Did we hear a report that the VRA main telephone switchboards at Akosombo, Akuse, Tema and Accra cannot call Ghana Telecom outside because they cannot pay their bills, and can only receive calls?

The CEO was quoted in that media report as refusing to talk to the press and simply dropped the line.

Like in all cases, there is total silence on every bit of information at the VRA where people being paid to do that job, especially the director for that outfit, are always too busy to answer to questions from reporters.

When Ghanaians are battling with load-shedding, forcing companies like VALCO, to reduce its pot lines from four to only one, the VRA has constructed a substation at Sawla to supply Burkina Faso with electricity.

Reports from the Ivory Coast say that one of their substations has been pending rehabilitation and that power we purchase from them is not forthcoming. Ghana still supplies power to Togo and Benin.

A bother to insiders is the ?1 million salaries each of the nine board members have been put on, aside of their sitting allowance.

Information gathered has it that, at the end of last year, each of them received from ?Tarzan? ?8 million as Christmas bonuses.

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