Since Tuesday some 50 soldiers have been deployed to the Yilo Krobo area in the Eastern Region to protect workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) replacing all post-paid meters with prepaid ones.
The soldiers would remain in the area as long as the exercise would travel to ensure there is calm there.
The ECG says customers who would insist on using the post-paid meters would be taken off the national grid, meaning they would live without electricity, which would undermine their lives in various ways.
The ECG explains that its resolve to replace the post-paid meters is to solve a long-standing misunderstanding between it and the people of the Krobo area.
One would wonder what that misunderstanding is.
According to information available online, in April 2017, an assembly member of one of the electoral areas in Yilo Krobo who owned a block factory allegedly refused to pay outstanding bills and anytime his power was disconnected, he reconnected it.
When the electricity company insisted on collecting the bills or power at the block factory should remain disconnected when cut, the block maker started beating war drums encouraging the consumers not to pay for electricity.
Subsequently, customers refused to pay their bills and when they were disconnected, they reconnected the power by themselves.
In no time a group calling itself Voice of Krobo Force staged a demonstration at Somanya against the Krobo office of the ECG, destroying part of the Krobo District head office and the windscreens of two official vehicles, while attacking ECG workers on duty and injuring some of them.
Some of the policemen detailed to maintain law and order sustained minor injuries from stones and other missiles thrown at them.
The group that later changed its name to Voice of United Krobo Force and finally United Krobo Foundation (UKF), insisted in a petition to the ECG with copies to the Presidency that the Krobo people would no longer pay electricity bills.
It explained that the creation of the Akosombo dam, which is the source of the national grid, had had negative repercussions on the lives of the Krobos as part of their land had submerged and their property destroyed.
The group members insisted that the state had not paid the affected people any compensation.
They also accused the ECG of fraudulent billing and manipulation of meter boards by ECG technicians.
It is also interesting to learn that the UKF made a claim that the Krobo people were promised free electricity by President Kwame Nkrumah and that strengthened the argument not to pay bills.
That claim could not be proven though, as even chiefs of the area denied knowledge of it.
It is good news that today, a number of stakeholder consultations had been held and a tripartite committee, made up of ECG, National Security and UKF, had agreed that ECG should install the prepaid meters.
However, it appears all is not well, hence the use of soldiers to protect ECG technicians installing the prepaid meters.
What will happen after the soldiers have left?
The ECG has promised to rectify all anomalies regarding
billing and fix problems with meters, while appealing to Krobo customers to report all problems or grievances for redress.
In fact, every Krobo should see it as a wrong tag that it should take military protection to instal prepaid meters on their homeland for fear of attack on ECG workers.
It should also strike them that the installation of the prepaid meters has become imperative because some of them refused to pay bills accruing on postpaid meters to the extent that about four years’ accumulated bills (2014-2017) have to be cancelled or forgiven.
Electricity has become integral part of everyone’s life even that of children, and it is the bills that sustain the operations of the provider for it to sustain supply, so every customer should resolve to pay bills and avoid any confrontation with the provider.
There is the need to apply the law to forestall what happened in Yilo Krobo repeating itself anywhere else in the country.