SOME consumers of electricity and water in parts of Accra have asked Organised Labour to be resolute in the ongoing talks with government, to ensure that the recently increased utility tariffs are reduced to the lowest minimum.
According to them, the upward adjustment of water and electricity by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission had added to the already difficult economic conditions in the country.
Water and electricity tariffs went up by 67.2 and 59.2 per cent last month, and was followed by between 18 and 28 per cent increment in prices of petroleum products, ruffling the feathers of Organised Labour to embark on a mammoth demonstration last week.
While government argued that the increments were in the best interest of the country, the group believed it was too high for the average Ghanaian worker.
Organised Labour, a collection of all labour unions in the country, is, fighting for a reduction in the tariffs.
It is demanding that the increment be slashed to about 50 per cent to cushion workers who are already facing the brunt of the economic situation in the country.
Speaking in separate interviews with The Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, the residents acknowledged the consistency in the supply of water and electricity to their homes, but lamented that the increment was having a toll on their finances.
“Since the increment, late last year, I now buy more than twice what I used to buy for the house, especially electricity”, Mr. Atta Oko, a retired civil servant at Lapaz said.
“I have heard that Organised Labour is negotiating the downward adjustment of the tariffs. They must be firm and speak the mind of the ordinary Ghanaian, because we are suffering,” he stated.
Mr. John Atakorah, a resident of Spintex whose livelihood depends on the sale of water said there was the need for the reduction.
“I sell one bucket of water for 30 pesewas and though water tariffs have gone up, I can’t sell one bucket of water for 40 pesewas because if I were to buy a bucket of water at that price, I won’t be happy,” he said.
Asked what he expected of the ongoing talks between the government and the labour unions, Mr. Atakorah replied: “We are expecting a significant reduction across board.”
Another resident, Janet Antwi, a hairdresser at Abeka, was also of the conviction that Organised Labour had a responsibility to protect the consumers from such increments.
Speaking in the local Akan dialect, Janet said her bills had gone up astronomically, forcing her to increase the cost of her services.
Meanwhile, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) claims it has reimbursed a total of GH¢3million to its customers it wrongfully over-billed, following the tariff increases last year, reports Joseph Edu Archison.
It says, about 70 per cent of ECG customers have so far been reimbursed and measures are underway to settle the remaining customers.
Mr. John Abdullai Jinapor, Deputy Minister of Power, disclosed this to the media in Accra yesterday.
He was speaking after leading a joint task force on an unannounced operation to some companies in Accra, to check their meters to ascertain whether they were paying the right charges for their power consumption.
The task force comprised representatives from ECG, Volta River Authority (VRA) and Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo).
They toured Latex Foam Company, Dannex Pharmaceuticals and Fan Milk Ghana Limited.
In an interview with the media after the operation, Mr. Jinapor said ECG began charging 59.2 per cent from December 1, 2015, instead of the December 14, 2015 timeline given by the PURC.
He said ECG had since taken the corrective measures and was overhauling its systems to reimburse affected customers.
Mr. Jinapor said the unannounced operation in Accra, would be replicated nationwide, adding that, district managers had been mandated to constitute similar task force.
According to him, the task force had been mandated to check hotels, ministries, departments and agencies, private and public institutions.
He, therefore, cautioned those stealing power and those tampering with ECG meters to desist from such illegal acts, as they would be dealt ruthlessly by the law if caught.
By Julius Yao Petetsi