Workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) will from this morning till Friday, August 26, embark on a three-hour demonstration daily across the country to protest against the planned concession of the company to a private investor.
The demonstration amidst the hoisting of red flags at the ECG’s regional and district offices and wearing red arm bands, will be between 8am and 11am, and further actions would be taken if their action failed to restraint the government from giving out the company to a private firm.
According to the workers, this would be the first step in series of industrial actions to be taken by the staff of the company to ensure the ceding of the power distribution company never materialised.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the workers, represented by the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU), said the planned concession would not be the “best option to bring reforms to make the ECG more efficient and profitable.”
Government hinted of its decision to concede the ECG to a private company for a period of 25 years as part of measures to restructure the company, so as to make it more effective, efficient and profitable.
President John Mahama at an event in Accra in June, said government would go ahead with the concession of the ECG in spite of the opposition, and urged the workers of the company to prepare their minds for the deal.
Under the agreement, the concessionaire would operate, maintain and invest in the distribution assets of the ECG, under a Lease and Assignment Agreement.
But addressing the press conference, Mr. Nyantakyi Amparbeng, the General Secretary of the PUWU, said the planned concession of the ECG was not the antidote to the company’s poor financial performance.
The key challenges facing the ECG, Mr. Amparbeng said bothered on political interference in the administration of the company, non-payment of bills by state institutions, lack of cost effective tariffs, managerial and governance inadequacies impacting negatively on staff morale and discipline, inadequate power generated which affects the volume of sales and turnover and transmission capacity related challenges.
Mr. Amparbeng, said the ECG could be transformed to operate efficiently and profitably to meet its obligations to power producers and service providers without Private Sector Participation (PSP), and wondered if the PSP was the only means to achieve the overall goal of the power sector reforms.
“We strongly believe that the ECG can be transformed to achieve the goals of the Compact Two without PSP. This can be done through disciplined managerial and governance transformation devoid of political interference.
“Appoint a dynamic and competent leader through a competitive process on fixed term contract (5 or 6 years) renewable and create an environment that would enable the Managing Director have a free hand to manage and operate the distribution business and public service deals,” Mr Amparbeng said.
The PUWU general secretary said the concession, if carried out, would defeat the rural electrification project of the ECG, which was a social intervention.
He said as a private investor, the motive for entering the deal would be profit driven and that could lead to increment in electricity bills, which would in the end bring untold hardship onto the citizenry.
Mr. Amparbeng brushed aside suggestions that no jobs would be lost declaring that that clause in the agreement covers only the first five years of the deal casting doubts over what the fate of the over 6000 workers would be after that.
He iterated their resolve to block the move and would go any distance, amidst breakdown in negotiations, to ensure the planned concession, which he said was at advanced stage, never saw the light of day.
By Julius Yao Petetsi