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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Columnist: Ametepey, Stephen

On #Dumsormuststop and the Way Forward

At long last the much anticipated campaign to put pressure on the government to end the power crisis that has persisted for about three years now has taken place – the #Dumsomuststop vigil. Events leading to the vigil were characterized by pockets of misunderstanding between the organizers led by Yvone Nelson and the Ga Traditional council having expressed reservations that the vigil would contravene the ban on drumming and noise making as observed in the Ga state in such periods. An amicable consensus was however reached between the parties and all in all the celebrity – led vigil was held on Saturday May 16, 2015 between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the legon – Tetteh Quarshie highway.
People from all walks of life including business men and women, students, workers, traders and the likes gathered in mostly black attires at the legon footbridge in solidarity with the celebrities to demand an end to dumsor. Yvone Nelson, Van Vicker, DKB and Sydney Barimah who were championing the course were present as scheduled to begin the vigil. Other celebrities who were in attendance were Prince David Osei, Efya, D-Black, Afia Schwarznegger. The photogenic amongst the crowd and the celebs took turn taking selfies for what I guess would serve their purpose on instagram, facebook and other social media. The protest then begun with the organizers and participants walking leisurely towards the Tetteh Quarshie end of the highway amidst subtle chanting and singing. There was huge police presence that accompanied the crowd. The police must be commended for their show in maintaining order and ensuring peace, security and compliance. They were civil in their duty, tactical and were very much up to the task. Overall, it was a peaceful protest.
The organizers exercised their rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution Article 21 (1) (d) which says that “All persons shall have the right to freedom of assembly including freedom to take part in processions and demonstration” and in accordance with the Public Order Act 1994 (Act 491) which requires “A person or group of persons who desire to embark on a special event to notify the police of that special event”. This was an action put together by well-meaning citizens. Whether the vigil was worth the time spent or not, would depend on the responses by the government.
Dumsor has become a national canker. It is affecting everyone. It is affecting every fiber of our economic life, our social life, our businesses, and even having negative psychological toll on people. The ripple effect of dumsor is colossal: businesses are collapsing with attendant job loses , people are dying in hospitals and some getting burnt in their homes, upsurge of crimes and robbery, low productivity in work places, dwindling student performance in schools, high living expenditure, poor economic performance of the country among others.
What government needs to do amidst these protests is to come out boldly and explain extensively to Ghanaians on the exact state of affairs. Let every Ghanaian know the pragmatic plans and measures put in place and when dumsor is actually expected to end. The mantra has always been we are working on it or we will fix it.
In dealing with the situation, more megawatts of power need to be added to the existing hydro and thermal generation capacity. Another alternative which we must as a nation favourably explore is solar power through partnership with private sector and banks to bring out policies to distribute solar panels in various homes to interested persons through flexible payment schemes. Again there must be collaboration and possibly a law binding on real estate developers to install solar panels in their estate houses as an alternative to the over dependence on the national grid. Prospective home owners must be encouraged to adopt roof top solar structures and new building plans should be designed to incorporate such structures. Other promising energy sources such as ocean wave and tidal energy as well as organic waste and composting are advantageous for the nation to explore through partnerships.
It is undeniable that lack of proper planning and mismanagement by successive governments after pioneer president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has brought the situation thus far. The current government has got the ax to grind. The ball lies in their court now. Government must step up to the challenge and ameliorate this dumsor situation and find temporal and lasting solution once and for all.
Ghana must light up. Indeed dumsor must end.
Stephen Ametepey