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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Columnist: The National Forum

Be smart! Mr. Prez

End Dum-Sor Now!

Northern Chiefs Tell Prez. Mahama

Contrary to reports that the protracted energy crisis is limited to only Accra and Kumasi by apologists of the NDC, Chiefs in the Northern Region who spoke to TNF over the weekend in Tamale, Bole, Kpembi and Nalerigu revealed that the problem is with them too.

"President John Mahama and his administration have plunged the nation into this far reaching crisis by sheer negligence and misdirected priorities." A respected chief who preferred to described only as a worried Ghanaian told TNF.

This comes at a time when widespread calls from a cross-section of Ghanaians including the Clergy, Organized Labour, Business Owners and Employers and Actors/Actresses have been lashed with insults and name calling by praise singers of the government even on occasions when the Government appear sympathetic and apologetic for the woes they have plunged Ghana into.

In a public lecture recently organized by the Trades Union Congress, TUC ahead of the May Day celebrations, Dr Yves Charles Wereko Brobbey questioned why we should be here if indeed persons paid to work at fixing the nation's problems were doing what they are paid to do. "I am tired of the excuses making rounds including water levels. In 2002, the Akosombo water levels went lower than they are now. There was no Bui. I didn't allow Ghana to suffer power crisis. What did I get? Insults from Ghanaians including some of you here." Dr Wereko Brobbey said.

TNF investigations further showed that one missing point in the whole energy discussion is the Health Impact Assessment. Sources at the Health facilities of the country reveal that food-poisoning is on the rise. Blood banks are unable to store blood quantities as they normally do.

One doctor said "only if we could tell the extent of the damage this power crisis is affecting the health of the nation, the politicians would stop everything else and focus on resolving it now before it further degenerates."

The Secretary General of the TUC speaking on behalf of Organized Labour on May Day missed no words to say that "the energy crisis has now become the greatest threat to economic, social, and political stability in our country. It must end now!"

While appreciating the difficulty the President finds himself in at this time in the history of the nation and the pile up of the consequences of so many years of neglect to invest into the ever growing demand on the Energy Sector as well as the huge financial burden imposed in tackling the problem, the TUC chief scribe maintained that we have no excuse to be in this crisis.

Mr Kofi Asamoah said;

"A number of factors have been cited as the causes of the crisis including erratic rainfall pattern leading to low generation, inefficient distribution systems and networks, low utility tariffs, poor management of the utility companies, and failure on the part of Government to pay its bills to the utility companies and to procure crude oil for the thermal plants. Some have even blamed Ghanaians for overuse of mobile phones and other gadgets. We in Organized Labour believe that the crisis is attributable to the long period of neglect. We have failed over the years to invest in our power infrastructure bequeathed to us by earlier leaders as a collective asset. We must do better – together we should change the situation.

Your Excellency, you have found yourself in the driver's seat at the time that we are facing one the severest crisis since independence. You need to provide the leadership that will lead us out of this severe crisis. We agree with you that we should not just MANAGE the crisis but we should FIX it. But it is taking too long to fix it.

We are beginning to lose hope. This is fuelled by the fact that workers' finances have been stretched to the limit because of the high inflation, the rising cost of living, and high income taxes. Many workers now survive on personal loans from banks at very high interest rate. Businesses are also stretched to the limit because they have had to power their businesses with generators and finance their operations with high-interest loans.

Your Excellency, we are aware of the measures you and your Government are taking to deal with the energy crisis. But, as noted above it is taking too long to fix it. What started almost three years ago as energy crisis is now turning into a severe economic crisis. We have already witnessed a significant decline in the GDP growth. Our currency lost significant value last year. The rising inflation and high cost of living are driving more and more Ghanaians into poverty and destitution. Mr. President, we should do everything in our power to prevent the crisis from degenerating into a social and political crisis. We stand ready to work with you and your Government to deal with this crisis.

Certainly, it takes huge financial resources to resolve this crisis. We believe that Ghana has enough resources to deal with this problem. We only need to re-prioritize and redirect resources to the power sector. We should not allow this crisis to deepen further.

Mr. President, we acknowledge your effort towards the procurement of emergency power plants. We must ensure value for money and due diligence in this process.

As part of the long term measure we should explore alternate sources of power. For example, solar farms or wind turbines could be developed especially for the communities without power. The technology is available for that purpose. We need better and efficient ways of matching demand to supply. We anticipate resistance from those who profit from the status quo. We think alternate sources of power will help deal with the power problem in the medium to long term."