Stealing the Peoples Power in Ghana

“We have enough power for our immediate needs from the Volta Dam and for the Aluminum smelter which VALCO is now constructing at Tema. But we are ready and prepared to supply power to our neighbors in Dahomey, the Ivory Coast and the Upper Volta. As far as I am concerned this project is not for Ghana alone. Indeed, I have already offered to share our power resources with our sister African states.”

[By: Anas Aremeyaw Anas]

ECG’s Rot: The President’s Assignment

Phase 1 of 5

“We have enough power for our immediate needs from the Volta Dam and for the Aluminum smelter which VALCO is now constructing at Tema. But we are ready and prepared to supply power to our neighbors in Dahomey, the Ivory Coast and the Upper Volta. As far as I am concerned this project is not for Ghana alone. Indeed, I have already offered to share our power resources with our sister African states.”

That was the ambitious speech of the visionary leader of a young and promising country at the inauguration of the Akosombo Dam on January 22, 1966. The country has since proceeded to establish the ancillary Electricity Company of Ghana in a bid to provide itself with sustainable electric energy resource that would help the young nation launch itself as a regional industrial model.

Unfortunately, the Electricity Company of Ghana has in recent times gone down the disastrous path of most of Osagyefo’s prized legacies. Indeed, the company has of late been in a troubled state, tottering its way into all sorts of turmoil and turbulence. It is also an open secret that some fishy deals litter the “corridors of power.” Having flung the doors wider open, the Weekend Crusading Guide can confirm that incompetence, corruption and downright thievery have been at the heart of the tragedy that has hit the ECG.

Our man went undercover as a worker in the ECG corridors, the debacle was a multi-faceted, systemic breakdown of processes and procedures. This endemic failure allows officials to indulge in financial impropriety and fill their pockets with money that should accrue into the state coffers. Uncollected electricity bills to the tune 400,070,000 (Four hundred million and seventy thousand Ghana cedes), over 300 million US dollars.

Beyond the corruption within the lower rungs of the ECG, there are bigger and murkier issues to unravel within the board room of the ailing state asset. So bad is the situation that unofficial ECG employees (popularly referred to as ‘gore boys’) have always shown up at the corruption party and even the crumbs have been a genial feast.

The situation becomes even more disheartening when considered against the backdrop of the frequent increases in electricity tariffs, not to talk of the epileptic supply, that the poor domestic consumer and small scale business have had to endure over the years. In other words, consumers have become helpless victims of the chaos and greed that reign at the ECG.

The fallout from President, John Evans Atta Mills’ unannounced visit to the ECG back in April 2010, provoked the TIGER EYE special investigative team into action.

Led by ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a team of investigators infiltrated the ECG, and unraveled massive corruption at different levels of the Company.

The team strategically pitched camp in four areas of the ECG system: Tema North, Tema South, Afienya, Kwabenya and Legon . The evidence we uncovered over the period is worth telling for the sake of God and country. God bless our homeland Ghana.

METER ACQUISITION “WAHALA”

Meters are the physical component of the electronic gadgets that record a customer’s consumption of electrical power supply. But as we found out, acquiring it legally is the exception to the rule.

The meters were a hotspot and the center of corrupt practices; you may call it a goldmine for officials at the ECG who fleece frustrated customers before rendering any meter related service to them.

Our painstaking investigation caught officials on our hidden cameras stationed at vantage points within the ECG, plainly stealing state and company property to sell to customers.

Meters, which by all accounts are customized company material, are stolen and sold like tomatoes on the open market as are ECG cables some of which we purchased from an official of the Tema North branch.

The investigative team uncovered corrupt practices that started right at the point of submitting meter acquisition forms for registration. This turned out to be the lowest level of the bribery ladder where officials take “colas” ranging between GH¢ 5 and GH¢ 10.

A case in point is the Kwabenya Branch of ECG where the Leopard Team of TIGER EYE managed to secure a three phase meter at the cost of GH¢ 600 (six million old cedis) from an ECG official.

This however came after fierce negotiations with a top official who also asked us to deal with another official. Indeed there is competition for customers applying for meters. Officials across the ECG hardly take their bribes within the premises preferring to do their shady business outside.

The repository for stolen meters awaiting delivery to customers is rather curious. At the Kwabenya branch for example, stolen meters were kept either in washrooms or in the workers’ canteen.

On one occasion when we went to take our meter, the following conversation ensued in Twi:

ECG OFFICIAL: Ok, so if you finish fixing the meter; you can’t use it today, I guess you already have my number?

TIGER: Yes.

ECG OFFICIAL: Any time you can call me so that I come and connect it for you.

TIGER: Ok.

ECG OFFICIAL: Yeah, this is a three phase meter, what about the single phase meter we talked about?

TIGER: Well, they said they now want a three phase meter instead.

ECG OFFICIAL: Where is the facility located?

TIGER: Adenta area, WASS down.

ECG OFFICIAL: You mean on the main road this way, so it is in Kwabenya?

TIGER: Yes.

ECG OFFICIAL: As for the three phase, its 7 (meaning GH¢ 700)

TIGER: 7 million, please reduce it for us.

ECG OFFICIAL: No, No, No, No, No; you know I have already called my boss to tell him, you see how this connection was done fast.

TIGER: Can you please talk to your boss for us?

ECG OFFICIAL: Ei! Talk to my boss, you know yourself that if you go through due process it can take you as long as three months without getting the meters?

ECG estimators are officials dispatched to inspect the premises where power is to be supplied after a customer has registered his forms. Depending on how urgently a customer needs a meter fixed, he/she has the option of transporting the estimator, who usually demands a fee at the end of his job.

Failure to bribe them would mean that these estimators would either find some flimsy excuses for which your premises is not fit to be supplied with power or they may discard your forms and by so doing increase your frustration.

These estimators submit their reports to District Technical Officers (DTOs) who in turn prepare a quotation and forward it to be signed by the District Manager, at which stage a meter release has been authorized, subject to the payment of the quotation receipt.

Corruption in the form of taking bribes pertains at this level because some District Technical Officers (DTOs) were complicit in bribery situations whenever customers approached them for the mandated duty of signing quotations.

The extortion acumen of most DTOs extended as far as taking bribes called ‘crouch’ from contractors in exchange for expedited work on quotations that these contractors submit to them.

The District mangers would not take bribes for single or separate meters. Theirs is the more lucrative domain of CT meter connections, transformers, district level ECG contract awards and massive cable theft deals.

Another striking feature we noticed at the Tema South branch which replicates itself across all the other branches is the accumulation of faulty meters which are left at the mercy of the weather; metres which are apparently beyond repairs.

Ironically, some of the “goro boys” , we found out, have a technical knowhow to repair these faulty meters, and at the least opportunity, they stole and repaired a few for sale to customers for huge sums of money.

TIGER EYE managed to secure a three- phase meter from an ECG official at the Legon branch at a cost of GH¢ 600.

We also paid GH¢ 300 at the Kwabenya branch for the purchase of a single phase meter, the selling official teasing us that if we chose the ‘normal process’, we would wait for eternity.

At the Legon branch of ECG, we were able to buy another three- phase meter from an official of the company; the following conversation ensued in the course of our negotiations:

TIGER: My brother he came yesterday, he told me, how much did you say?

ECG OFFICIAL: I say 500

TIGER: 500, new Ghana cedis or old?

ECG OFFICIAL: the new one.

TIGER: Aaah the new one

ECG OFFICIAL: You know something, I told him before collect the money I go come see the meter, but if it can be possible, you can come in the morning tomorrow so that I bring the meter, I collect the money then I give you the meter and then we go and install it.

TIGER: ok!

ECG OFFICIAL: I don’t want to collect the money and say go and come, because yesterday I promised you that the thing is ready, that’s why the price I did it like that. This one ino be that you are going come, going come again.

TIGER: going come is not there.

ECG OFFICIAL: everything is ready, didn’t I tell you yesterday?

TIGER: sure, sure

ECG OFFICIAL: that I don’t know that you guys would come today, if it would be possible ….

TIGER: So the meter is in the house?

ECG OFFICIAL: eeh, yesterday I sent it to the house, I didn’t bring it today

TIGER: oh OK, I see

ECG OFFICIAL: you say where is your house?

TIGER: it is at estates area there…

ECG OFFICIAL: have you placed the meter board?

TIGER: the meter board everything is ready

ECG OFFICIAL: so we just put the meter on, then we make the connection.

METER TAMPERING

Meter tampering is an illegal process involving the calibration of a metre to record less than the actual units of power a customer consumes. Through this means, the customers manage to pay far less than they consume. In extreme cases, the customer can escape without paying a peseta to the ECG.

We realized that tampering was rampant within the ECG. Individuals, households and businesses were deep into the illegal act so prevalent among insiders and people outside of the ECG resulting in massive revenue loss to the company.

The commonest type of tampering we encountered was the meter by-pass involves the joining of two mains entering a meter with a wire; the consequence thereof is that the tampered meter reads far lower consumption.

But, alas, (as we observed in our rounds with roving ECG officials – faults and loss control unit staff), the “benevolent” crew couldn’t care less ! They often preferred taking bribes and allowing the crime to persist.

We stumbled on the story of a house with an adjoining sachet water company that had tampered with their meters. Ordinarily the ECG officer who comes across such a situation must put the meter off and issue the owner of the meter with a summons to appear at a particular room of a branch to answer charges.

This particular official took off the meter but turned round to negotiate a deal with the owners of the facility. Initially imposing a “fine” GHS 5000, the official ended up pocketing GHS 1000.

There is a second more sinister tampering type is; this involves acquiring a meter that isn’t registered in the ECG system, but with the connivance of officials within the ECG.

The third is tariff tampering. Here, individuals and businesses collude with officials of ECG at the meter labs – where meters are programmed – to manipulate tariff settings on meters, so that their meters would record lower rates of electrical consumption.

This invariably ensures that a user does not pay what is expected. This kind of tampering can hardly ever be done without big guns within the ECG, given the highly officials within the ECG officials within the ECG officials within the ECG officials within the ECG officials within the ECG computerized nature of prepaid meters.

The fourth involves multitask tampering. This is particular of post-paid users; it involves illegal tampering of meters. For prepaid users this takes the form of manufacturing fake receipts with the help of ECG officials to create the impression that they (customers) have already purchased an amount of prepaid credits. However, whenever they hear of monitoring teams going to a particular location, they rush in to normalize the meters’ operation.

Admittedly, there may be other forms of tampering that we may not have mentioned here, the bottom line was that, pre paid meters were being tampered with at grave cost to the ECG and for that matter the nation.

Certainly mother Ghana stands in the past and presently as the biggest loser in the general scheme of events, and that grave loss in the future is what we so passionately strive to curtail, so help us God.

THE ECG METER MARKET

The ‘ECG market’ as we choose to call it was a bustling place for buying and selling activities. We captured officials busily stealing materials with careless abandon.

We discovered that some officials in the ECG were ready to sell everything from ECG meters, cables and transformers at unbelievably exorbitant prices to customers and build up big their pockets from materials that government uses millions of US dollars to import.

All this goes on whilst the management of various branches sit unconcerned or at almost at their wits end, leaving the business of the meters to the unscrupulous staff and their allies; the ‘Gorro Boys’ who set up office at the yards of almost all of the ECG branches.

Employees have teamed up with gorro boys to fleece not only the state but to take as much money as they can from the frustrated home and business owner in search of electricity to light their homes and power their businesses.

In a case of worsening the customer’s plight of having to wait for years without getting power connected to a facility, ECG officials and their gorro boys collude to quote huge sums of money for separate and single meters.

These prices could be as high as seven or eight times the official price a customer would ordinarily pay for connection unto the national grid.

Official meter prices at most ECG branches hovers between GHS 100 cedis to 150 cedis for a single phase separate meter. Yet, for frustratingly cumbersome meters procedures at most ECG offices; some ECG officials in cahoots with gorro boys take monies as high as 350 cedis to 500 for single meters and 600 – 1200 cedis for three phase meters. Why should people dish out a fortune just for electrical power?

Stay tuned for phase 2 where we unveil the good the bad and the ugly….

ECG’S ROT: The President’s Assignment

Phase 2 of 5

… GH¢ 470 Million Left To Go Down The Drain As Some Companies Deny The State Of Its Needed Revenue.

Ongoing investigation into the activities of the State owned Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has brought to the fore a long list of companies and individuals owing. Companies were indebted to the ECG so much that one wondered why the artisans – corn miller, tailor and hairdresser – who owe some GH¢ 20 or less have to suffer power disconnection.

 Since The Promo of the investigation started airing on the Countries major media networks, debtors are currently rushing to the ECG to settle their bills

The figures we bumped into upon entry into the countrywide ECG system pointed to the fact that, the ECG would without any doubt, be a profitable state institution if the company was proactive in her debt collection measures.

If ECG vigorously pursued some of their grave Special Load Tariff (SLT) defaulters, they would most likely be moderate in the amount of adjustments that they seek from the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) during their quarterly reviews. The could redefine their debt collection methods.

SLT customers are entities whose power load exceeds a certain threshold for which reason ECG gives them special meters known as Current Transformer (CT) meters. Aside SLTs, there is also the case of private homes and small businesses who have piled up their electricity debts and are in no hurry to settle these debts.

Monies owed the ECG by SLTs and individuals from our investigations, if collected would make the outfit financially independent and sustainable to a large extent.

We bring you figures of debtors as at NOVEMBER 2011, all those disputing the figures can check with the ECG, some may have settled all or some of their debts by now, yet; others may be piling more, that certainly would be unacceptable in every respect.

We have figures from all ECG operational regions but our defaulters spotlight shall be on five key ECG areas, ACCRA EAST, ACCRA WEST, TEMA, WESTERN AND ASHANTI WEST REGIONS.

At the end of our strenuous analysis of the horrible figures, we realized that over thousand private companies and state enterprises owed the ECG in excess of some GH¢ 460 million, monies running into trillions of old cedis going down the drain as a result of the non collection by the company.

SO WHO AND WHO OWE THE ECG?

From what we gathered on the field, TIGER EYE brings to the fore the list of companies and state institutions that have used power but failed to pay for the resource.

For purposes of easy grasp of what clearly is an interesting list of ECG debtors, we categorize them under the following:

The high ranking hospitality outfits
Top shots within corporate Ghana
High-flying members of financial institutions
The eminent telecommunication companies
The grocery establishments and of course 
The State Enterprises and then
The indebted academic institutions

We would also bring you the list of patriotic entities; here are a group of companies who have made it their duty unlike the defaulters to settle their bills and by so doing aid the efforts of the ECG in improving their service output.

WHO AND WHO OWES THE ECG?

The HOSPITALITY DEFAULTERS
Members of the hospitality industry owed the ECG in all five regions under the purview of our analysis; here they owed the ailing ECG varying amounts that added up to in excess of some GH¢ 1,768,210.56.

From the plush executive suites of that multinational hotel down to the not too expensive local hotel, lodge, inn etc., a critical utility as electricity was being used without it being paid for.

To start us off is the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel. With their ‘Uniquely Golden and Traditionally Ghanaian’ label, they owed power debts of some GH¢ 238,621.89, Golden Tulip Hotels with all their ‘worldwide hospitality’ tag, had paid up in Accra East, yet owed power bills of (GH¢ 155,078.85) at their Kumasi City branch in the Ashanti West Region. Still in the region and with the guarantee of ‘a real welcome away from home,’ Miklin Hotel, certainly did not welcome power debts of GH¢ 29,497.14p.

Shangri La Hotel with its ‘African Experience’ still had power bills of (GH¢ 33,855.09) yet to be settled. If Kingsby Hotel treated ECG debts (GH¢ 11,667.16) with the traditional royal touch they promise their patrons, the ailment of the utility provider should be assuaged to a large extent.

‘We are traditionally friendly,’ they say; but Hotel Wangara’s (GH¢ 24,917.34p) indebtedness was miles from a friendly play with the ECG. Same was the case with Raybow Hotel who owed GH¢ 33,855.09p, with all their ‘Elegant Luxury,’ tag in the Western Region.

Tema’s Premier Hotel; Hotel Majorie ‘Y’ were indebted to the fine tune of (GH¢ 29,024.57). Coco Beach Hotel joined the list with GH¢ 26,321.95p as did fellow Tema based outfit, N-Joy Hotel despite promising the best of all worlds were saddled by a debt of GH¢ 26,024.57p.

Still in Tema, Royal Ravico Hotel, failed to put a touch of royalty to their debts by showcasing their unwillingness to pay their mounting power debts that had reached GH¢ 85,091.62p as at November 2011.

‘Welcome to the premier life’ is tagline for Best Western Premier Hotel but they do not seem to have welcomed ECG debts in excess of (GH¢ 77,842.24). The very expensive Movenpick Ambassador Hotel with their ‘passionately Swiss’ tagline perhaps forgot to be patriotically Ghanaian with their huge power debt of (GH¢ 577,631.07).

With a GH¢ 212,523.47 debt, ‘Accra’s Business and Leisure Address,’ Alisa Hotel was in the porridge as was Sanaa Lodge Hotel stationed in ECG’s Accra West region. 
Other debtors included: GS Hotel (GH¢ 38,083.70p), Ascension Hotel, East Legon (GH¢54,361.82p), Calwell Hotel (GH¢ 77,842.16), Chase Restaurant owed (GH¢ 27,093.29), and VVIP, which was indebted to the tune of (GH¢ 39,184.10p)

Frankies Ltd. (GH¢ 53,347.33) and their sumptuous ice cream did not look good as the popular food joint with branches in the capital stood accused as did the Ghana Food Court sinking in debts of (GH¢ 35,185.60p).

Interestingly all these hotels charge their customers rates in which they embed the power component which customers must settle on entry or before exit of the facility.

The FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DEFAULTERS

These are institutions that deal with finance and in order to protect money which they lend out, request for collateral before granting loans; yet some of them owed power supply as at November 2011.

Outfits in three ECG Regions (Accra East, Accra West and Tema) had yet to settle whooping sums in power debts to the ECG. Grave defaulters who surfaced in all the three regions were ‘The Pan-African Bank,’ Ecobank, whose total power debts added up to (GH¢ 320,275.56)

Societe Generale – Social Security Bank (SG-SSB), would not be left out of the list with (GH¢ 63,601.00). Leading loans company now turned bank, Unique Trust Financial Services/ UT Bank, promised ‘a loan in 48 hours,’ to their numerous customers but had forgotten to pay debts in one of their two accounts, certainly the GH¢ 30,597.93 was surely unacceptable.

Providence Insurance defaulted in bill payment to the tune of GHS 20,408.28. The state owned Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) seem to be interested in serving its customers better than the ECG with debts of GHS 68,455.96

As if the lack of bill payment by these banks was not injurious enough, some banks detailed to take electricity payments on behalf of ECG have been holding onto collected monies for as far back as 2008. This situation is causing customers and the ECG unwarranted nuisance, we would expose those banks and finance institutions in subsequent publications; STAY TUNED!

TELECOM COMPANY (TELCO) DEFAULTERS

The indebtedness of these companies is surprising especially considering the amount of funds that they have and continually pump into pageantry, musical shows and other media related exploits, perhaps in the light of gaining mileage within the populace.

Certainly, settling their power debts which are a small fraction of their budgetary allocations for the many entertainment and sports programmes that they sponsor, would be most welcomed by an ECG that is badly in need of money to serve small scale businesses and homes.

Ghana Telecom now Vodafone, on analysis were unmatched in their accumulated debt profile, the company owed in all five regions, in some cases in multiple accounts, their total debt stood at GH¢ 886,814.15p.

A breakdown of Vodafone debts are as follows; five accounts in Accra East, GH¢ 593,813.16p; Ashanti West debt was, GH¢ 111,073.82p; figures for the Western, Accra West and Tema regions were GH¢ 41,442.72p, GH¢ 49,078.55 and GH¢ 41,442.72p respectively.

Whilst Vodafone fails to settle its power bills, they splash cash on a programme like the ‘Vodafone Icons’ as mother Ghana awaits her trapped funds to help the rural poor who hardly know anything about Vodafone’s Icons.

Clearly Vodafone had failed to ‘Get On Board’ ECG’s debt collection train and had failed woefully to apply their infamous tagline; ‘Power to You,’ to their power debts owed ECG and the nation for that matter; an incredible GH¢ 886,514.15. We hope it would be ECG’s time very soon to receive payment.

Next to follow Vodafone is the yellow MTN battalion. With an estimated 10 million customers, MTN looked to have concerned themselves more with making the next million customers rather than paying for the power on which their machines were running.

They were grave defaulters in three regions, Accra West, Kumasi West and in Tema. With GH¢ 115,998.29p owed in Accra West, GH¢ 161,839.89p in Kumasi West; and a fine Tema debt standing firmly at GH¢ 71,973.01, the ‘Everywhere You Go’ team overall debts added up to some GH¢ 349,811.19.

Although yet to launch their operations in the country, Ghana’s sixth and last telecom network, Africa’s fastest growing network; GLO communications, and their ‘Rule Your World’ tagline, came third in this category, with an  ECG debt of GH¢ 176,293.96p in their account in the Accra West region.

Kasapa (Now Expresso) had two accounts in Accra East and Accra West totaling GH¢ 98,213.64p yet they tasked us to ‘Dare to Dream’. Their debts however fades into the background when it’s compared with that of Millicom Ghana, operators of the Tigo ‘Express Yourself’ platoon whose account debt in Accra West read as follows: GH¢ 154,562.00.

Zain (now Airtel) had paid up their power bills in other regions but had forgotten to settle one account in Ashanti West, GH¢ 63,232.48.

For these companies, what mattered was the battle for supremacy relative to who had more subscribers, programmes, events, promotions and TV commercials. With all that media blitz, ECG was the last entity they endeavored to consider.

How can we build a country like this? If we all decide to contribute our quota by paying our taxes and bills, the poverty in mother Ghana would be minimized.

GROCERY DEFAULTERS/CORPORATE GHANA

The infamous Max Mart Stores still had debts yet to be cleared in one of their two accounts; the figure to be paid being GH¢ 47,832.74. Yet this same Max Mart stores had put up a car as reward for a sale promotion.

Shoprite with (GH¢ 52,577.20) is ahead of Max Mart at the ECG. ‘Where Ghana shops,’ Melcom Ghana Ltd, owed ECG in Ashanti West GH¢ 13,941.73

Depending on where you are coming from, they are at the  entry or exit of the buzzing Osu Oxford street, they pride themselves as an outlet that is ‘catering for the needs of Ghanaians and expatriates. Koala Shopping Mall also owed some GH¢ 63,301.80p

Here, we present you with perhaps the juiciest component of the debtors’ brigade. In here is a mixed bag of some key corporate defaulters owing the ECG, the candidates herein are mind boggling, interesting and funny if you like.

The infamous Opeibea House owed GH¢ 24,117.76, their neighbours with their unique architectural design, Silver Star Towers were also indebted to the ECG to the tune of  GH¢77,940.04. Completing the maze if you will, is the Premier Towers with mounting debts of GH¢ 218,865.47. Did their name; Millennium Heights delude them into thinking that they could hold onto their GH¢ 31,434.93 debt for 1000 years?

Mind you, all these office space renters take huge cash sums from the many corporate institutions that operate from their outfit yet they did not see it prudent to set aside the power component for payment to ECG despite the fact that businesses in such buildings would come to a halt without electricity.

Ghandour Cosmetics, who pride themselves as the leading cosmetic manufacturers would not lead the crusade to pay ECG debts of GH¢ 162,670.82; ‘We Print’ says Camelot Ghana, beyond printing they forgot to pay debts of some GH¢ 21,713.01. Teletech Ghana owed electricity arrears of GH¢ 45,801.61.

POLY PRINT had not paid-up for power of GH¢ 171,698.82 they used to produce their quality products, a similar story was observed of POLYGROUP, which was indebted to the tune of GH¢ 139,403.51. Even the most popular POLY named company; POLYTANK Ghana Limited was owing 151,637.06.

Latex Foam Annex could afford its patrons ‘partnership for life’ yet they would not partner ECG in debt payment (GH¢ 26,168.75) for life.

Multinational giants, LEVER Brothers were ready to ‘create a better future daily’ for its many customers but failed woefully to pay ECG a whooping GH¢ 908,599.34 in ever growing trapped power cash. Super Paper Products Company (SPPC) was in there with GH¢ 534,868.05

Other companies who owed were: Air Liquide whose debtors account read GH¢ 120,272.74; Patrons of Lifestyle Gallery paid for their stylish furniture but the outfit failed to pay ECG GH¢ 19,780.60 of accumulated bills. Vienna City – an entertainment hub/ GH¢ 44,435.14 as did Ikam Printing who perhaps forgot that ECG did not print currency but needed their GH¢ 30,990.51 Reroy Cables (GH¢ 83,121.11); these and many others owed ECG and had fallen foul of their responsibility to settle power debts.

 They all stand accused in ECG’s court of indebted companies.

Drug manufacturing giants; Ernest Chemist/GH¢ 58,874.38, Dampong Pharmacy owed GH¢ 14,824.4 and were giving ECG bitter pills to swallow by their defaulting status.

Importers of frozen poultry and meat products; Servister, were also inside the soup with GH¢ 88, 832.43. The swanky Institute of Physicians and Surgeonss near the Ridge roundabout was indebted to the tune of GH¢ 208,266.73.

Syntex Plastic Factory admit in their tagline ‘We are regularly selling’ but as per their power debts of GH¢ 103,702.89p; we contend they are not regularly paying. In debt as well is Ckeckpoint Ghana/ GH¢ 88,608.38; Osu Entertainment Center and E Process International owed GH¢ 20,972.62 and GH¢ 125,010.84 in that order.

Venue for all the big state conferences and the several musical shows owed the ECG a whooping amount of money. Our amazement though is whether the place can be rented on credit; a whole Accra International Conference Center (AICC) owed GH¢ 491,769.78.

With their ‘Tradition of fine catering,’ Airways Catering owed GH¢ 108,806.29, whiles seeking to promote ‘Empowered Lives, resilient nation,’ did the United Nations Development Programme forget to pay their bill? We ask because they owed GH¢ 181,477.49

The instance of multiple accounts was a prominent feature especially in Tema, as a result of the heavy industrial nature of the place and the Western Region, which was home to several wood processing companies and mines.

In the Western region, John Bittar Company with 5 accounts had defaulted to the tune of GH¢ 2,436,640.24, but were upstaged by Chiranno Goldmines whose twin accounts had given birth to GH¢ 5,228,524.90. Noble Gold Bibiani did not exhibit any nobility with debts in excess of GH¢ 1,571,140.32.

Do you know what this money can do for places like Bimbilla, Bole and Chorkor?

Everpure Water, producers of bottled mineral water had yet to settle the ECG to the tune of some GH¢ 15,111.48; same was the case with the Bulk Oil Supply GH¢75,686.11. There are several other companies whose names and debts as a November 2011, would be publish in subsequent publications.

The Battor Catholic Church GH¢ 111,015,00 and another spiritual and Winners Chapel followed suit with GH¢ 13,293.67

ACADEMIC DEFAULTERS

It’s quite interesting that public universities for all the monies that they charge students in lieu of facility user fees; which has electricity bills incorporated into them, owed the ECG big time.

Perhaps in living up to their ‘Premier University’ tag, Legon scored first class and wore the academic debtors gown with an outstanding debt of GH¢ 4,388,500.63. University of Science and Technology, try as they did, lagged behind the frontrunner with a second class upper of GH¢ 2,981,228.93.

Then came the University of Cape Coast who were too busy learning and forgot to settle GH¢ 1,871,566.40. Accra Polytechnic showed why the HND certificate was worthy on the job market. GH¢ 1,116,958.78 was certainly a strong showing.

The school stationed on Greenhill, near Legon, a.k.a. the Ghana Institute of Management and Professional Administration (GIMPA) were indebted in two accounts adding up to GH¢ 146,707.44.

The Tarkwa School of Mines, dug deep down the earth and came up with two accounts which totaled GH¢ 339,646.10p. The University of Education, Winneba also owed ECG some GH¢ 240,776.42.

The remaining institutions were; Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) – GH¢ 231,032.01p, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School – GH¢ 165,976.26, Kumasi Technical Institute – GH¢ 102,044.06.

The Pentecost University College for all the fees they charged students still had power debt to settle (GH¢ 46,533.37), SOS College owed GH¢ 27,929.36

INDUSTRIAL DEFAULTERS
Relative to the industrial defaulters; majority of who were stationed in Tema and the Western region, we collated as many as 91 entities some with having as many as five accounts who owed the ECG, the gross sum of GH¢ 21,388,686.52. We would definitely be dropping names in due course.

STATE INSTITUTION DEFAULTERS

That State Institutions who were in debt relative to power used, came as a bit of a jolt especially so against the news item sometime last year, when the vice president, John Dramani Mahama, advised all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to change from post-paid to pre-paid meters.

The veep’s position was met with different reactions and we are left wondering as at today what has become of it.

The defaulters among MDAs are so many and juicy a register that we would bring the top 10 entities owing in power debts then take the lid off as many of them as we can later on.

Top 10 State defaulters:

Kpong Water Works                               GH¢ 12,749,926.53 
37 Military Hospital                               GH¢ 1,456,538.40
GWCL Rooster Station                            GH¢ 1,407,983.56
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital             GH¢ 1,316,365.31
Tema Oil Refinery                                 GH¢ 1,192,367.00
Office of the President                           GH¢ 675,805.55
State House, Parliament                        GH¢ 635,781.31
Ghana Water                                        GH¢ 617,105.51
Ghana Manganese Company                    GH¢ 553,929.48
Police Headquarters                              GH¢ 393,736.65

So just 10 defaulting State Institutions out of hundred others owed their fellow ECG An unbelievable sum of GH¢ 20,999,539.30 equivalent to US$ 14,000,000.

The list of Ministries owing huge amounts with their ever heaping power debts, were as follows: 
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning                   GH¢ 524,924.67
Ministry of Works and Housing                          GH¢ 70,839.59
Ministry of Trade and Industry                           GH¢ 116,610.58
Ministry of Defense                                         GH¢ 8,814,284.28
Ministry of Education                                                GH¢ 214,685.33
Ministry of Transport                                       GH¢ 112,666.88

We shall release the list for other Ministries in due course.

We are aware of the clearing house module through which some state institutions pay their power debts. The question however is; for a country that is demanding much from ECG, on which grounds could their monies be held and for how long?

Other interesting defaulters on a regional basis were:

In Accra East, Pantang Hospital owed, flanked by the Ghana Standards Board, the National Identification Authority, the Forestry Commission, Ghana Trade Fair Company, and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority.

In came the Elwak Military Barracks, the National Theatre and National Institute of Film 
and Television Institute (NAFTI) who refused to be left out. Guess our last three candidates; VAT Service, Police Hospital and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.

ACCRA WEST: 
Here, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) wore the crown as lead defaulters with multiple accounts that added up to; GH¢ 657,225.61p. SSNIT House, Trust Tower, Ridge Tower, Office Shopping and their Archives Department were all in the soup.

Making an appearance in Accra West were; the Cocoa Marketing Board, State Publishing and State Insurance Corporation. Showing their solidarity was the Ghana Rubber Company and the Environmental Protection Agency.

TEMA 
Here the very tall list included Juapong Textiles, Regional Maritime and PSC Tema Shipyard amongst several others who made the cut as did the Tema Municipal Assembly.

WESTERN REGION
State Institution defaulters included the likes of the Ghana Bauxite Company and the Ghana Railway Corporation.

Others included the Air force Senior Mess, the Ghana Manganese Company, the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited; twin accounts of the Ghana Water Company and of course the Sekondi Fishing Harbour.

The case of KUMASI WEST saw half of their four candidates place in the top 10 State Institution defaulters; GWCL Rooster Station and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the Ghana Cocoa Board and Kumasi Abbatoir rounded up the roll call.

What is irritating is the deliberate misuse of power by most officials of these institutions. Workers do not put off their air conditioners; shops around such government institutions tap power for free etc. Indeed, some private businesses and individuals tap power from MDAs, ALL at the expense of the tax payer.

THE PATRIOTIC ENTITIES

Although those who owed were in their thousands, the list of loyal partners of the ECG could not escape us during our analysis on entry into the nationwide ECG SLT system.

Nestle Ghana Limited, extended their Good Food, Good Life Policy to the ECG by paying their electricity bills whilst Ghacem Gh. Ltd, the nation builder made sure they were indeed building the nation by paying their electricity bills.

Ghana International School (GIS), showed that they understand the inner working of not only their students, but also the ECG. They pay their bills and on time as well.

Intravenous Infusions Ltd, are not only producing pharmaceutical products to better the health of Ghanaians, but also paying their ECG bills to help in the development of the nation. Big Brother; Daily Graphic are indeed ahead of the pack, their ECG bills are paid on time.

Praise must be given where it is due, whereas Novotel Kumasi owes the ECG a huge amount of money, Novotel Accra has been good to the state by paying all their bills.

Guinness Ghana Ltd. shows it has indeed got the power to pipe their rich dark Guinness by paying their ECG bills. The leading brewery in Ghana, Accra Brewery, exhibited their clear leadership by making sure they do not owe the ECG a penny. Fanmilk is not only so nice, nice nice in taste, it is also so nice to the ECG. It has settled its bills.

The Cocoa Research Institute had also paid up. Palm Development Company Ltd also proved that they are not only concerned about the development of palm, but also of the ECG. ‘Your business is our business’ says the National Investment Bank and they are true to this. The business of ECG is theirs, so they have paid up.

The Cape Coasters, Ameen Sangari Ltd, realizes that the power they use for their production activity is not free, so they settle their ECG bills on time.

Perhaps, other Public Institutions can take a leaf from the page of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), who have fulfilled their duty to their fellow state institution, ECG, by paying all their bills.

To these entities and others who pay their bills on time to help the ECG to march onto greater heights, we say AYEKOO!!!

WE CALL ON THOSE WHO HAVE BILLING ERRORS TO GO TO THE ECG HEADQUARTERS TO RECTIFY THOSE ERRORS SINCE THEY STILL EXIST ON THE DATABASE AS DEFAULTERS.

Re-Entry into ECG System – Tema in Focus

Considering that Tema recorded the highest number of defaulters by our defaulters analysis, TIGER EYE, five months down the line (June 2011), reentered the ECG system to ascertain whether these companies were making any efforts to lessen their debts.

We realized to our dismay that most companies sat by as their debts kept rising, this was the case even when Government was giving them some subsidies on their power consumption. Entities we tracked on our reentry were predominantly Steel, petroleum and the Manufacturing companies.

So even in the light of subsidized power, companies still defaulted and ECG still sat by as more of the people’s power kept going waste.

CLOSED/FINALIZED ACCOUNTS

A closed account is a technical terminology that denotes meters that are supposed to be taken out of the ECG system as a result of heaped debts that remains unpaid by the particular entity.

The ECG is then expected to take legal action against those companies as a last resort to recouping the used but unpaid power debts.

But more often than not we realized that most of such meters supposedly off the ECG system were still active and entities and individuals were still using such meters without paying a dime to the state.

Closed accounts have on their own also contributed a significant chunk of revenue loss on the part of ECG; there are institutions across board (i.e. all five regions under the purview of our investigations) who still had sums to settle in closed accounts.

We found hundreds of accounts owed the ECG varying sums in closed accounts; meaning the particular entity or individual was no longer using the meter but had also not paid off the debt that was tied to the meters at the time they decided to stop the usage.

The breakdown of trapped ECG funds in closed accounts was very worrying and a grave cause for concern.

ECG REGION GH¢ US$
1 Accra East GH¢ 235,801.03 US$ 154,118.02
2 Accra West GH¢ 479,986.99 US$ 313,716.99
3 Tema GH¢ 1,435,135.49 US$ 937,997.05
4 Ashanti West GH¢ 311,358.38 US$ 203,502.21
5 Western GH¢ 412,161.92 US$ 269,386.88
TOTAL GH¢ 2,874,443.81 US$ 1,878,721.44

Companies in this country owe the ECG such huge sums of money and the ECG always trumpets how obsolete their equipments are and why they need tariff adjustment after the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC’s) quarterly review.

Clearly the lack of legal pursuance of adamant defaulters leaves a lethal impact on the national coffers, we ask; can any nation develop along such arbitrary lines? Your guess is as good as ours.
Why should this be the case; what is the ECG legal team doing in this regard; for how long shall this persist?

There are several other entities who may not have been mentioned, that does not in any way mean that they do not owe. Individuals also owe the ECG and we would stop at nothing to put their names out.

Since the story broke, we are aware of all those companies who have hurried to the ECG to settle their bills. It is an exercise in giving back the ECG its due and then we can also demand of them quality service, efficiency and value for all the monies that we pay to them as bills.

God Bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.

In Phase 3 of the President’s Assignment, we walk you through state and private individuals who have decided to help the ECG in its operations when it came to the supply of power.

The ‘Agbogloshie Private ECG Grid’, the ‘Prampram Self Electrification Master’, the infamous ‘Takoradi Air Force Base Military Power Distribution Lord’s, the ‘Accra Mall dollar rate chargers’ and the 1.6 million debt collection saga amongst other issues, will be uncovered. STAY TUNED!!!

ECG POWER ‘DONS': The President’s Assignment Phase 3 of 5

… ‘The Agbogloshie Private ECG Grid’, the ‘Prampram Self Electrification Master’, the infamous ‘Takoradi Air Force Base Military Power Distribution Lord’s, the ‘Accra Mall dollar rate chargers’ and the 1.6 million debt collection saga

Anas Aremeyaw Anas reports from ECG, Makola

When there is lawlessness in any company, others cash in and take over affairs to do their own thing. Some institutions and individuals have been collecting monies for the ECG, yet some of these cash collections have ended up elsewhere than in the ECG’s accounts.

Who pockets this cash?
The fact that ECG’s services were too erratic and unsatisfactory was something that ran through the course of our investigations. It is this unacceptable service that has perhaps gingered others to ‘help’ the ECG supply power to consumers. Five entities were caught in our net briskly engaged in the illegal supply of power to homes and businesses. They are;

The ‘Agbogloshie Private ECG Grid’, the ‘Prampram Self Electrification Master’, the infamous ‘Takoradi Air Force Base Military Power Distribution Lord’s, the ‘Accra Mall Dollar Rate Chargers’ and the 1.6 million Debt Collection Saga. Developments in these areas are scandalous.

Having got wind of the nefarious activities of blatant power stealing in Ghana’s biggest slum as is the case in many other places, TIGER entered the field as an inhabitant of the area and hired one of the many shacks in the area that did not have power supply.

It was now time to go in search of power supply, first task was to buy cables and wire the single room. These cables were being sold in many kiosks and by table top sellers in the area.

On the big issue of having power connected, TIGER was directed to deal with a group of young men who were in charge of power supply to the area. These men took a connection fee and reminded us of the monthly obligation of bill payment; failure to which we risked been disconnected.

This private ECG Power Station was distributing stolen electrical power at their own fixed prices to homes and to the several businesses littered within the area. Who is watching? We know the ECG knows of such illegalities, what have they done about it? Another big issue we were exposed to was the nature of wiring in the area. It certainly was a risk to inhabitants of Agbogboloshie. Wires crisscross and befriend each other from one pole to the other.

This is a recipe for disaster as it has already led to the many marauding fires gutting the place from time to time, not forgetting the associated loss of property and human lives. The situation in Prampram, is no different from Agbogbloshie, here, an individual; Power Ninja, as we choose to call him, supplied power to individual homes and small scale businesses in the area. At the end of the every month he went round to take monies from people he had supplied power to. One cannot but admit that, he turned out to be more diligent in money collection than the ECG itself!

A resident of Prampram, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, speaks about the Power Ninja, who had been supplying the area power till he was arrested. According to him, the nature of ECG’s bad service was enough justification for the Ninja’s actions to be justified.

Since his exit, the ECG has not been able in any way to match the efficiency with which the Power Ninja supplied them power. What did ECG do when this was brought to their knowledge?

What has ECG management at the Head Office done about the entire township of Oshiee in the Bortianor District? Here is a community which has been connected to the national grid for the last six years but has not paid a dime over the 72 months to the ECG.

The Takoradi Air Force Base Military Power Distribution Lords have been helping the ECG in the power supply business for over 7 years without their knowledge. The Air Force in the Western Region; in line with creating a platform for companies to launch their operations due to the oil discovery in the region, had decided aside protecting Ghana’s airspace to supply power to ‘deserving customers'; most of whom we discovered were expatriate multinational companies.

Some military men allegedly signed juicy deals with some fifteen companies who were using power for free by tapping from the Air Force line. This free consumption of electricity is then billed unto the Ghana Air Force account and the Air Forces power debts are paid by the Ghanaian tax payer through the Consolidated Fund – thus the ordinary Ghanaian who lives on less than a dollar a day, contributes to paying the electricity bills of these rich multinational companies. The companies involved in the Air Force Base Power Station’s gratuitous power supply were: Tullow Oil Ghana, Kosmos Energy, Armajaro GH Ltd. Stellar Logistics, WEBB Construction, Mobicrane Ltd. Saltpond Offshore Ltd (SOPCL), PW Ltd, VANCO, Inter Maritime Services, HESS , NHV Aviation, IAS, SAMATEX Timber and Plywood Ltd., Produce Buying Company Already some of these companies are grumbling that they paid a handsome amount of cash to some senior Military personnel as electricity bills, who are these officers? Where are the accounts into which these monies were lodged and who are the signatories to these accounts?

So who took what in the military? 
Under what agreement is the Ghanaian tax payer being made to pay bills of profitable multinational companies. We discovered that some companies after realizing the abnormality have agreed and settled ECG’s estimates on the amount of power consumed over the period. But as always, there are the recalcitrant one’s that have refused to pay. They believe they have a right to use power for free for the unsuspecting tax payer to pick up the bill. We gathered that some of the recalcitrant ones refusing to pay with the tacit support of some big men in ECG? The ECG has not paid any informant’s fees to the whistleblower, and the Commander who is cooperating with the ECG, is also said to have mysteriously been transferred from the Takoradi Airforce base. At the Broll Ghana Ltd managed Accra Mall, business is brisk, it’s all about cash, they are showing that they are more proactive foreign businessmen, they charge their tenants utility bills in dollars though the ECG bills them in cedis. They have their own electricians who would disconnect the tenant if he does not pay, it is not known under which agreement they operate, but it is illegal to charge utility bills and receive payments in dollars or any other foreign currency in Ghana. Perhaps, they believe that they have a right to retail power to the shops on their own terms.

In the case of the 1.6 million revenue collection saga, two fictitious revenue collection agencies; ‘SUFFICIENCY FINANCIAL SERVICES & MERCHANT MOBILE MONEY,’ the former Board Chairman expatiates further … Who were the people from the Headquarters who sought the release of the suspect and what was their motivation behind it?

According to a senior official at the Accra Office of the World Bank, Sunil Mathrani, one of the things that ECG has suffered from for long, for decades, is the fact that there is a significant amount of electricity which is unaccounted for and which is lost.

“Any power company has this problem anywhere in the world. You have the gap between what you produce and what you sell, which is due to technical reasons, but it’s also due to commercial reasons.”

In other words, power theft is rife within the ECG, people not paying their bills, people leaving their premises and disappearing and leaving the bill behind them. There are many reasons – you have a mixture of technical and non-technical loses.

Relative to ECG specifically, these losses are high. They hover around 25%, that is; one (1) out of every four (4) units of electricity doesn’t contribute any revenue to ECG. So there’re carrying this burden, which they ordinarily transfer to users with tariff increases every now and then.

In Ashanti region, the losses are the worst in all ECGs districts and regions. And that’s where there is also [the] probably the largest amount of collusion and theft of power by consumers.

That exists everywhere, but ECG is homing on the Ashanti Region because the problems are very large. It’s a very big region, lot of customers and they want to make Ashanti region (kind of) the flagship. If they can succeed in breaking this problem in Ashanti, then they can extend that model to all over their network and all the other parts of the country where they have operations.

Here is what the World Bank thinks can and should be done: an improvement in the whole customer management system, right from metering, billing, the type of meters, payment systems as well as upgrade the network, basically an integrated approach to bettering the lot of consumers and by so doing, improve the revenue inflow of the ECG.

Meanwhile a senior member of policy think tank, Imani Ghana; the managerial reigns of the largest supplier of power, ECG, should be given out on contractual basis.

Kofi Bentil believes only that would result in the much needed improved service on the part of ECG management, especially as he sees the woes of the ailing power supplier as being a cancer of management.

Whiles admitting that his proposal may come across as radical, the renowned policy analyst sees that as a viable option that the country must turn to in search for better service from the ECG.

He further opines that for as long as the leadership – board and management of ECG – remained a political appointment, people put in charge were going to have a hard time doing what they deem fit without interference.

He proposes a five year management contract for an organization to run the power supply of the country, subsequent to which a renewal or abrogation of the contract would be based on their performance over the period.

Bentil is at a loss why ECG should record such high amounts in debts owed it by individuals and even state enterprises. “There is no excuse why ECG lets people owe it to that extent,” he adds that; “the person who has to collect has not shown enough seriousness to collect it.”

On state institutions owing the ECG, he charged ECG to “shut down the lights on anyone that owes them and take legal action,” he is of the opinion that every state institution must either justify why tax payers’ money must be used to fund its activities or raise enough revenue to pay for the power they use.

In PHASE 4 of the President’s Assignment; we shall take the lid off, the banks and other financial institutions holding ECG monies paid to them by customers, we would also bring the list of top 10 industrial companies owing the ECG. Did you know that the ECG also owes some other institutions?

These and more are lined up in tomorrow’s edition of the New Crusading GUIDE. STAY TUNED!

ECG CARELESSNESS: The President’s Assignment Phase 4 of 5

…The Story Of How Some Banks & Financial Institutions Are Reinvesting ECG’s Cash, Leaving The Power Supplier Stranded & The Million Ghana Cedi Defaulters

Anas Aremeyaw Anas reports from ECG Electro-Volta House

When debts collection was becoming burdensome for the Electricity Company of Ghana a few years ego, they came out with a smart idea, banks and other financial institutions who the ECG has contracted to take payment on their behalf.

All of this was to ease the hustle of electricity bill payment and the purchase of prepaid units, banks and to some extent telecom companies have been allowed by ECG to sell power and receive payments on behalf of ECG. This move looked good on paper but bad in practice, the third parties (the banks especially) involved are taking advantage of the situation at the expense of the ECG. Some of them have refused flatly to duly transmit the monies they collect to the ECG. The effect this refusal to transmit monies to the ECG is double edged.

On one hand, the ECG is unable to get their badly needed revenue, whilst on the other hand, customers who must have paid, suffer disconnection resulting from the fact that monies paid do not usually reflected on the ECG system, and when they do, the reflect very late. We gathered on the ground that, the cause of the long delays by commercial banks in transferring customer’s payment of their electricity bills to ECG was because they were busily investing ECG cash into their own businesses.

Some banks contracted by the ECG to help in their revenue collection drive, were not taking commission on the monies they took on behalf of ECG, this again we established was ostensibly to outwit competitors and get a large chunk of customers paying ECG monies to them.

EZI Savings and Loans Company who operate account Number 4003032- ECG; have been holding unto ECG cash in the Nungua District for over a year. As at August 2011, this company was holding as much as GH¢ 50,042.12 (over ¢ 500 million old cedis). When the promo of this story aired they hurriedly rushed to pay Other banks steeped in this unethical business practice, unacceptable by all standards are; Ecobank The Trust Bank, Amal Bank – now Bank of Africa, Agricultural Development Bank, United Bank for Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Guaranteed Trust Bank, Stanbic Bank Ghana, Unibank and several others.

Revenue recipients for ECG include; Bonded Cashiers, Private Sector Collectors (PSC) and the Banks. Yet figures in our possession from the ECG Intranet points to the fact that banks have consistently posted low returns from monies that they have collected on behalf of the ECG.

‘The banks are reinvesting these monies into their own businesses, contrary to the contractual agreement they have with ECG.’ Kwame Tefle a banker told this reporter

The erstwhile board chairman of the ECG, Dr. Kweku Osafo, in an interview told us of some more shocking revelations on especially how rural banks were stifling the ECG financially.

Several rural banks out in the districts were unwilling to pay ECG monies into the company account. TIGER would in due course publish a full list of all banks whose defaulting status is crippling the ailing power supplier.

We staggered on a case in the Ashanti West Regional Office, as far back as August 2011. The ECG regional manager was requesting the help of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to track some unauthorized money collectors.

The two agencies caught in this illicit act were; SUFFICIENCY FINANCIAL SERVICES and MERCHANT MOBILE MONEY; these entities had gone as far as issue fictitious receipts to unsuspecting customers.

Stories of many such entities abound, whiles milking the state, they deepen customer frustration in search on better services within the power delivery sector, a very critical component of the national development drive.

Here is an ECG that is in dire need of revenue and yet the banks find it prudent to hold onto these monies and by so doing inconvenience us all. For how long shall we entertain this, who is watching who?

THE WORLD BANK/GEDAP EPISODE
GEDAP stands for the Ghana Energy Development and Access Project.

This is a very large project that the World Bank and other aid donors have been working on mainly with the ECG, and other agencies within the power sector. The project has been running since 2006; and is worth some 250 million dollars. Most of that money is for system improvement in electricity distribution.

The GEDAP Project is split under two phases (GEDAP 1 and 2) GEDAP 1 was estimated to cost over US$ 171 million to be used in respect of; corporate strengthening, system upgrade, commercial and technical capacity upgrade, intensified of existing distribution networks and grid extension in six regions.

GEDAP 2 however was aimed at capacity expansion and network improvement and institutional development.

Under institutional development of GEDAP 2, US$ 27.7 million was allocated to: ‘REPLACEMENT OF CREDIT METERS WITH SPLIT-TYPE PRE-PAID METERS IN ASHANTI REGION.’

Considering that the Ashanti West region of the ECG recorded the most losses as a result of collusion on the part of officials and customers, the World Bank wanted to partner ECG to reduce losses in the region on a pilot basis.

Metering has over the years been a thorny area, because supposedly, it is the conduit through which customers fleece the state of much needed revenue. Replacing old credit meters with prepaid meters was seen as the ideal panacea, and the World Bank had earmarked as much as US$ 27.7 million for that purpose under GEDAP 2.

But till date, the tender documents for the contract are yet to be floated. Simply because the last board insists that they want to look for money to fund the metering of both Ashanti regions (East and West).

The bigger problem however is that; mother Ghana is on the threshold of being blacklisted by the World Bank because the board is trying with to sole source the metering of Ashanti to a company.

GEM is the only local meter assembling plant in the country and the action of the board could at best be seen as empowering local industries and its associated creation of employment for people.

Senior management of ECG are split on the effectiveness of the meters, whiles a section see the e-cash meters as effective as far as recommending the module to other countries, another faction say it has failed to solve revenue losses and have at best worsened the plight of customers.

GEM has provided documentation from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) indicating that their meters are of global specifications, they further insist that their production was based on specifications given by THE ECG. Again, some people within ECG are vigorously disputing that it meets ECG specifications.

The erstwhile board’s insistence to award the Ashanti West metering contract with the funds coming from an outside party (the World Bank) means the World Bank, might theoretically withdraw their monies in that respect.

Not just of the metering component of US$ 27.7 million but the whole $70 million GEDAP 2 facility as they see the Ashanti West metering as part of their integrated plan to better the lot of citizens and to assuage ECG’s troubles in the region.

THE MILLION CEDIS INDUSTRIAL DEFAULTERS GANG

In phase 2 of this series, we brought to the fore the list of companies under the Special Load Tariff (SLT) bracket of ECG, who owed ECG huge monstrous debts. We were unable to bring the industrial defaulters whose overall debts stood at GH¢ 21,388,686.52 equivalent to some US$ 13,979,533.67.

Here, we shall break our silence on the million cedis industrial defaulters gang, who owe the ECG.

The industrial defaulters comprises especially the Manufacturing and Steel Companies in Tema, also in there are the Timber companies and the mining concerns, that guzzle electrical power from the ECG and fail woefully to pay for.

Chiranno Goldmines Tema Steel CompanyWestern Steel Company

Ferro Fabric 

Special Steel 

John Bittar and Sons 

Sentuo Steel Ghana Limited 

Tema Steel Company

Noble Gold Bibiani

Tema Oil Refinery 

TOTALGH¢ 5,207,828.12GH¢ 3,014,376.70GH¢ 3,011,792.63

GH¢ 2,536,738.73

GH¢ 2,515,228.90

GH¢ 2,436,640.23

GH¢ 1,683,840.14

GH¢ 1,583,832.70

GH¢ 1,316,365.31

GH¢ 1,192,367.00

GH¢ 21,962,271.73 equivalent US$ 14 million

The ECG is owed lots of monies by companies and individuals to the tune of GH¢ 460 million. But the major supplier of the power that we use is also indebted to other state agencies from whom they buy power.

As at the last time that we entered the ECG system, ECG also owed GH¢ 148 million cedis: the breakdown of which are as follows;

ECG owes the Volta River Authority (VRA) GH¢ 80 million, the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) GH¢ 60 million and GH¢ 8 to Sunon Asogli Power Plant, all amounts in respect of power purchases.

The bigger problem however is the amount of losses that the company records in respect of distribution and commercial losses which currently stands at 29.5% each year.

As per ECG’s calculations, every percentage lost translates monetarily to some GH¢ 60 million cedis. Therefore the ECG losses every year is a whooping amount of GH¢ 1,770,000,000.00. By implication, the ECG’s losses even aside defaulting consumers of power is an area that management must move quickly to arrest.

One wonders what the Revenue Protection Division, Loss Control and Customer Services Directorate were doing to better the lot of the company; especially as they are supposed to ensure that the ECG improves its revenue collection.

We are aware of nefarious activities by some of ECG’s disconnection officers and contract meter readers, who collect monies from customers and allow them to pile up their debts.

We are well aware of the mines and other big timber firms in the Western Region who are given preferential treat by some big men at the Electro-Volta House, a situation that has emboldened some of these companies to use electrical power and expecting that the ordinary tax payer picks up the bills at the end of the month.

We are aware of how the regional management of ECG have on several occasions been handicapped in the performance of their duties with ‘orders coming from Electro-Volta House whenever they decide to tread the right and fair path.

The politics of power supply to the Tema Oil Refinery is another very spiky area that we have observed during the course of our stay at the ECG Head Office, these and many more are within TIGER’s domain and the story would certainly be told someday.

In tomorrow edition, we would find out how much board members take as board fees, who takes what.

Stay tuned

The ECG Board – Who Took What? The President’s Assignment Phase 5 of 5

Anas Aremeyaw Anas reports, Electro-Volta House 5th floor, Accra

To identify the strength and weaknesses of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the TIGER eye team after uncovering the rot at the lower levels,  hopped into the board room to see what was happening there .

We stationed ourselves within the swanky, well furnished and air conditioned walls of the ECG Boardroom overlooking the Independence Square and the bustling seashore.

All decisions that affect the company are made here; in that room, our power supply issues are tabled and discussed by board members.

Hundreds of deals are scrutinized, analyzed and finalized to ensure that the Ghanaian tax payers’ money is used judiciously, the ECG gets its materials and services from here.

The board was to play a supervisory role over ECG management, headed by the Managing Director (MD), who by default is also a member of the board. But more often than not we have picked up signals of dissenting voices within management relative to some board decisions.

Two major areas that the now reconstituted board involved themselves actively were; the restructuring efforts of the company and instituting the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which the ECG paid dividends to the Government.

The last board chairman emphasized the need for restructuring the ECG in order to pluck and plant the entity into the company mode, where it is made accountable to all its stakeholders.

The problem we gathered while nosing around the boardroom was the back and forth between the Ministry of Energy, the board and management relative to the restructuring plans undertaken by the board.

We gather that the Energy Minister advised that the board gets a consultant to study the ECG structure and proffer modern leadership styles; at least so that he could make reference to a document when asked what went into the restructuring.

This was after the Minister had given verbal instructions to the Acting MD to tell the board to halt the restructuring efforts, it did not sit well with the board who went ahead to create other directorates and appoint directors to those new offices.

Our difficulty however was whether the consultant’ (one Kwame Asante’s) preliminary report was copied to the Minister of Energy; especially as we were told that it was Minister who prescribed the consultant.

In an interview with the Chairman, Dr. Kwaku Osafo, cognizant of the challenges that comes with ‘change’ within a system as panoramic as the ECG, admits dissenting voices within management and staff; he however insisted that the restructuring was absolutely of the essence.

At the Electro-Volta House, we realized that the ECG board room was a bustling place where a myriad of activities were almost always going on.

The team had scores of contract documents to look at, be they on metering contracts, mobile substations, communiqués from the board to management and staff, tender documents on service poles amongst several other stacks of documentation.

As the team kept scouring through documents on the many shelves at the Electro-Volta boardrooms, we came across the appointment letters of the major policy makers within Ghana’s power supply network and  got access to the remuneration for these board members.

These members by records in our possession were by what they accrue monthly, enjoying a  part time job, sitting in the comfort of the boardroom and taking policy level decisions concerning the power that Ghana uses as a nation.

Upon analysis of internal memoranda under the subject: FEES FOR BOARD MEMBERS, a striking element that could not escape our attention was the seeming jostle for superiority over which board member raked in more cash each month.

Meanwhile, the ex chairman in an interview spoke about how hard members of the board worked to justify the amounts that each member took, fellow board member Allotey reiterated the point about how hard he personally had worked to retrieve ECG cash locked up .

Different sums of board fees were paid out to board members at the end of each month. These monies are paid NET OF TAX either by cash or cheque. But most of these board members preferred the CASH option.

The fixed monthly board fees as at January, was pegged at GH¢ 750 and GH¢ 975 for members and the chairman respectively. That amount was increased by GH¢ 225 from February till the reconstitution of the board at November 2011. So the board chairman earned GH¢ 1,267.50 as against members GH¢ 975.

The board chairman by in principle always earned 25% more that what members took as board fees

Board sitting allowance for members was GH¢ 300 and GH¢ 400 chairman. Each member of the board was also entitled to monthly electricity subsidy of GH¢ 278 for members and GH¢ 385 (Chairman)

All members resident outside Accra, had their transport to and from their regions catered for by the ECG. The calculation of how much a member took for transport was 0.60p increased to 0.70p based on every kilometer travelled.

The distance from Cape Coast to Accra for Board Member, Bernard Allotey Jacobs was 288km which translated to GH¢ 202.

From Kumasi, Kwabena Adjei Bambaata was paid for trip of 540km adding up to GH¢ 378.

Mr Sumani Nayina however was paid GH¢ 921 based on a kilometric calculation of 1,316km by 0.70pesewas.

Having made the journey to Accra, their accommodation of these members, meant that each member had to be paid GH¢ 300 stipend per night on board duties.

On the subject of the per diems paid members attending workshops, it also oscillated between GH¢ 375 for members and GH¢ 500 for the chairman.

Another facility paid exclusively to the Board Chairman since July 2011 was Mobile phone units of GH¢ 200 each month.

The different engagements board members attended for which they were paid monies relative to sitting allowance, per diem and in the case of others transport and accommodation allowance were;

Board Meetings (at least twice a month)

Welfare Committee meeting

Finance Committee Meeting

Tender Committee Meeting

Technical Committee Meeting

 Emergency Board Meeting

Board Activities

Meeting with the Minister

Workshops

Interview Panel

Meeting with Identifiable bodies

Inspection of Projects, not forgetting their

Trips abroad on board duties

The highest earning board member per month from January to November 2011 were;

In January, Uncle Allotey Jacobs, managed to lead the list having collected monies amounting to GH¢ 5,343.00 before being paid a supplementary fee of GH¢ 3,865; in total Allotey Jacobs was paid an amount of GH¢ 9,208.00p for the month of January.

Come February, Allotey was upstaged by board chairman Kwaku Osafo, whose GH¢ 8, 023 months’ total stood way above his other colleagues.

With GH¢ 8,172 as his total for the month of March, Kwabena Adjei alias Bombata, clinched the top prize.

In April, Stephen Sumani Nayina, entered the ECG board in grand style, like Usain Bolt on the tracks, he smashed all records of the previous months and set a new record with GH¢ 9,416.00p, as the highest a member of the ECG board claimed in just 30 days of part time service to Mother Ghana.

Uncle Allotey staged a comeback to the top in May with GH¢ 6,890.00p payment as a board member.

For the next six straight months till the reconstitution of the board, Stephen Sumani Nanyina was the star performer, receiving the highest sums from July through to November 2011.

The honorable board member was paid GH¢ 8736 for the month of June, before signing for GH¢ 9,282, GH¢ 9,296 and GH¢ 9,256 for the months of July, August and September respectively.

The board’s record board fee payment was chalked when Mr. Nayina grossed GH¢ 11,867, for a packed month of activities and meetings on the ECG board. That amount fell to GH¢ 9,296 in November.

Worthy of note however are three members of the board, whose totals were very modest comparative to others: they are Samuel Cudjoe, Barima Kwame Nkyi XII and Hon Dr. Nii Oakley Quaye-Kumah; all of whose spending ranged between GH¢ 2000 – 3000.

The TOTALS for each member over the period spanning January 2011 to November 2011 stands as follows:

Kwabena Adjei Bambaata GH¢ 77,237

Stephen Sumani Nayina     GH¢ 71,719

Bernard Allotey Jacobs   GH¢ 68,836

Dr. Kwaku Osafo           GH¢ 57,785

Samuel Cudjoe             GH¢ 29,551

Barima Kwame Nkyi XII     GH¢ 28,222

Nii Oakley Quaye Kumah    GH¢ 26,490.80

Anthony Gyampo            GH¢ 14,030.80

NOTE: with the activity based earning of the board, the three top earners as indicated are members living outside of Accra: to which end they are paid transport and accommodation fees.

Mr Gyampo’s figures comprise two months earnings because he assumed acting Managing Director status of the company after the last MD left, and by that was been paid as an Acting MD of ECG.

Mr. Nayina also served for a total of eight months before its activities were halted in November 2011.

In total, GH¢ 373,871.60, equivalent to US$ 249,247.73 was paid out to members of the ECG board for 11 month period. “If these amounts are paid to leaders of the company at policy level; it is well within our rights as Ghanaians to demand more from the ECG board,” an insider within ECG asked

In an era of austerity when some other boards of state enterprises meet twice a year, at worst quarterly, what was in it for ECG board to meet every time?

The former board  chairman, Dr. Kwaku Osafo, proffers an answer when he insists that with the deluge of contracts that have to be looked at and worked on, a financially bustling area like the ECG cannot meet once in say three months.

Every member of the board is supposed to serve on a number of Board Committees, just two we gather, except in the case of the Chairman and MD who are allowed to be on more board committees.

The boards’ erratic and short term loans have also been another cause for worry, the suppliers’ credit debt currently stands at some $ 91 million dollars at the time the board was reconstituted.

Since the exit of the last MD who had turned down an extension of his mandate, ECG has been without a substantive head, with the Acting MD being a person that the last board put into that critical role to act for over seven months.

A senior official of the World Bank, Sunil Mathrani describes an ECG without an MD aptly as follows; “the MD is the pilot in the cockpit of the plane. If you don’t have leadership from the MD, then clearly, the thing is on autopilot. It is just cruising along with minimum kind of effort. People are in a wait-and-see mode. People are not going to take any major initiatives when you don’t know who is going to be the next MD.”

Without a shred of doubt, the past and present governments have done mother Ghana a great disservice by the way they have conducted themselves within the power sector, signing deals without recourse to any proper feasibility studies and more disturbingly pushing aside long term loan facilities to pay huge cash sums as was the case in the previous government. It is mother Ghana who has been left for the worse in all these shady transactions.

A major sticking point to the last power crisis Ghana experienced, was the repurchase of the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO). At what price did the erstwhile government decide to enter the agreement with the American owners, for what did the erstwhile government agree to buy back the 40-year-old VALCO?

In a clear case of double jeopardy, the then Government had to force the Volta River Authority (VRA) to power VALCO ostensibly to create jobs and by so doing justify the purchase they had made way back in 2005. This move worsened the power crisis of 2006 – 2007.

Volta River Authority (VRA) did allow VALCO to operate one of their five machines, with assurances that if the rains were good, a second machine would have to be run. In the midst of all these, records have it that VALCO pays far less than what the ECG pays on the same power, ECG as the sole power distributors took from the Volta River Authority (VRA).

 Whiles the average Ghanaian and business struggled with mounting ECG bills, the very big mining companies, who are bulk consumers and took their power directly from the VRA. We discovered that they were paying highly subsidized rates for power, even with that, they still defaulted in their accounts with the ECG.

We are in the know of an administrative fiat from the Energy Commission that the VRA should charge relatively lower power rates comparative to ECG, although ECG has far more customers than VRA.

Multinationals were paying comparatively higher rates in neighbouring West African countries where they operated, why then do they seem to have a field day in the case of ECG, somebody we insist must be sleeping on their job.

Let none think that the TIGER would completely exit the ECG arena, in the interest of social justice, we shall continue to hover around ECG branches and continue to expose the rot, stench and brazen corruption on the part of all involved.

We are well aware of houses in high residential areas, whose electricity consumption is without any bill whatsoever for years. We shall be after Special Load Tariff defaulters who refuse to settle their bills.

We are aware of a workshop in Ashanti West, opposite the Kumasi Catering Rest House, where real illegal deals are taking place under the cover of darkness, we would shine light on the nefarious acts soon.

We know of how e-cash meter boxes have been covered with tarpaulin at the Nungua and Kwabenya Regions of the ECG, why and for what; we would tell you soon.

In the wake of our infamous defaulters’ list,  many companies were quick and smart enough to sneak into the ECG and settle their bills, before coming out to find ways of making up for their shirked responsibility.

The story however is different for mobile telecommunication giants, MTN, who have come out without much proof to challenge  their indebtedness  STAY TUNED AS WE UNRAVEL MTN AND THEIR INDEBTEDNESS

BOOK YOUR COPIES NEXT WEEK AS WE WORK ON THE MOBILE TELECOM GIANTS, MTN.

Make sure you catch PHASES 1 and 2 of the President’s Assignment on any of the local TV networks (Satellite and Terrestrial).

Till then; LIGHTS OUT and God Bless Our Homeland GHANA.

[By: Anas Aremeyaw Anas]

One thought on “Stealing the Peoples Power in Ghana”

  1. Hello! i have an assignment at school based on the knowledge management subject and i chose ghana electricity company Ltd as my assignment company, my request is what are critical areas in ghana electricity company Ltd? and the need of knowledge management in these critical areas. Thank you for understanding and i will be waiting

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