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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Columnist: Nico van Staalduinen

We are sorry for the inconvenience - ECG Ghana

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I am sure when ECG managers read my article they will say; "that is just your personal experience".

But I am also sure that I am just one of many clients hit by laziness, apathy, corruption and total customer neglect of the Electricity Company of Ghana. So let me give you my story.

For the last 13 years, I have been living in Aburi and for the last 13 years I have regularly, sometimes daily, complained to ECG Faults report in Accra with the only serious outcome being the answer: “We are sorry”.

Aburi is, as we all know located in the Aburi Mountains and falls under the Mampong district of The Electricity Company of Ghana.

I am someone who (almost) never gives up, I complain, I try to motivate people, if that doesn’t work I complain more, I try to assist in improving but I don’t give up. Simply because giving up is never a solution and giving up to anything we need to change in Ghana means to me that I don’t care and I don’t mind if Ghana develops or not.

But ECG has beaten me: I AM GIVING UP.

But if I ever give up I always expose the problem and when necessary everyone involved as a last resort to improve and solve the problem. I know that doesn’t make me popular among the culprits but I don’t care.

So today I am writing this article as my last resort. To all (mostly useless) ECG people involved. I am announcing that from this day on I will no longer disturb ECG with my complaints anymore because if 13 years of complaints don’t work I wonder if this article does. Also, I wasted too much of my MTN credit to be waiting endlessly when calling ECG Accra, mostly to be disconnected halfway or to receive the answer I started this article with: We are sorry for the inconvenience.

I have lived in Teshi-Nungua Estates, Nungua, Spintex, Dzorwulu and Aburi-Jamaicaso. I have lived through electricity rationings during the Kufuor era, dumsor during the Mahama era and think I am used to how things work in my beloved country, Ghana.

I moved to Aburi 13 years ago and that’s when my nightmare with ECG started. Like many Ghanaians, I had to buy my own poles, paid for installation and found out that ECG Mampong was overcharging me 3 times so I demanded (and got) my money back. Since then ECG Mampong people know I am a troublesome person.

I know the corrupt practices of some managers in Mampong district who are creating a technical problem, claim not to have enough staff and are later allowed to bring external contractors to solve the problem. One of them had his own company in Tema where a colleague of his did the same. So his workers worked in Tema and the other one's company worked in Mampong. Everybody was happy except the consumers. I have known the last three managers of Mampong and had/have all their numbers including the alarm and fault report numbers of Mampong. Because like I said I never give up and never take no for an answer.

Several years ago, every time it rained someone would switch off the light in the area and like clockwork put it back the next morning around 6 am. I asked him why and he told me that was to protect the people who had bad systems. Funny enough when rain approached from Accra’s side the light was never switched off so I assumed many people must have been “kicked” by the power when that happened. Maybe that inspired someone to write the song “kickeme”.

To cut a long story of 13 years short I will give you the details of my last 4 weeks record-keeping in Aburi “enjoying” ECG and the reason I am now giving up on ECG and ECG Mampong in particular.

The last full weekend in February our light went off the evening of Thursday 18th night to be restored Monday the 22nd of February. When it came back, our voltage went from very low to very high for hours. Sometimes my fan almost stood still and later moving faster than a helicopter. I managed only to get some attention to this problem after I drove to Mampong and spoke to the very friendly new manager Mr. McWilson and several hours later our power was back and normal.

The next weekend, there was a storm on a Friday and the whole district of Aburi was off. I understand that they couldn’t resolve all in one day.

But the Monday after the storm, when light was still not back in our area, I drove up the mountain and found some ECG workers and complained to them. They told me that they couldn’t repair today because a big tree had fallen on the high tension lines and they didn’t have a team to remove the tree. I went there myself and located the tree. I went home to get my saw and cutlass and called ECG Mampong 40 minutes later that I had removed the tree and the lines were free. We had power back 2 hours later.

After that, we twice had 3 days light off 28 February – 2nd March and 19 – 22 March and last weekend was the 3rd out of 4 weekends only to be restored after 68 hours. I called the new manager but after Saturday the new manager started to use the same tactic as his predecessors by switching his phone off to avoid my insistence.

The rest of the past month went as follows: Full daylight off 2 times, 4 nights light off between 18.00 h until the next day and recently 1 phase working out of our 3 phases for a total of 9 days in March. This means that two out of every three houses with a single-phase connection also didn’t have power of 9 days. I can send any interested party my records.

I also recorded 7 short power interruptions between 10 minutes and 1 hour during the last 4 weeks and 2 times during which the power was so low that my fan hardly moved. Needless to say that especially low power is very dangerous!

here is a list of things I wasted during my 13 years in Aburi: the first thing that spoiled in my house was a 10 KVA power stabilizer, 3 microwaves, 2 borehole water pumps, 2 thermostats in my electric oven, and countless light bulbs because of power peaks. I got tired of repairing the cooking air extractor in my kitchen so that’s not working for the last 6 years.

I estimate the total damage well over Ghc 60,000.

I am not the only Ghanaian experiencing this, but the magnificent answer to all my, and everyone’s sorrow of ECG is: "WE ARE SORRY".

When and which Government will solve this never-ending power-supply disaster?

How are we running this huge State-Owned Company?

Because we can’t continue like this.

The most annoying for me, when we have “light off” is looking down from the beautiful Aburi Mountains on to Adomerobe and Oyibi where all the lights are on. Apparently, some ECG districts are doing better than others.

Nico van Staalduinen,

Just a concerned Ghanaian