When I heard about the purported increase in the utility tariffs, I did not pay much attention to it because it was not really a big deal to me. I never understood the fuzz about the raise until my land lady handed the bills to me. To be frank, I was very furious. I had to exercise some degree of restraint least I throw the bills back at her.

This sudden increase in water and electricity tariffs got Ghanaians like myself who know the “pains” of paying bills crying foul.  To get an in-depth information on the current state of affairs, I combed the internet for any tangible material that will help me understand the situation. Then I came across the proposal that was sent to the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission. According to the proposal, for the upward adjustment of the tariffs, “The proposed increase as requested was meant to enable the Utility Service Providers to cover their operational and maintenance cost.” The Electricity utilities requested an average increase of 166% while the Water utilities requested an average of 122% increase. The proposal also included the fact that the water and electricity tariffs had not been increased since 1st June 2010.

The acting Managing Director of the company, Cephas Gakpo in response to this stated that out of an amount of 994 million dollars the Company requested from government in 2007 to meet its technical Challenges, only 430 million dollars was released for disbursement over the past three years. Thus there is a shortfall of 400 million dollars making them unable to operate efficiently.

Following the upward surge of the utility bills, many people expressed their misgivings about the turn of events. The general comments that were circulating were the facts that, the amount they were being asked to pay did not correlate with the services being provided. Indeed, they did have a point, because checking the inconsistency of the power and water supply as against the increment, it was quite ridiculous.

Maybe, if they do, the service will get better,” this was the argument some people put up when the subject was being discussed. It is getting to a year since these new tariffs were implemented, and the services have not gotten any better. There are constant power cuts at least twice or three times a day and promises of the situation getting better are yet to be realized.

If asked what can be done about this situation, I would say enough is enough! Let us stop paying for utility tariffs if we are not getting our money’s worth. But who loses at the end? Some people also suggest that we take a legal action against these service providers. Some are also positive that things will get better if we are patient. I am almost tempted to agree with the lawyers, but after the litigation then what? Does it provide a lasting solution to the problem? And can they afford the damages since they are already incurring costs?

It is not fair for public Utility Service Providers to charge so much and not deliver. Monopoly in my opinion also has a lot to do with this issue. If we had several service providers for electricity like the telecoms do; where users have the power to port to another network when one fails, these service providers will sit up. But as it stands now, we only have ECG to rely on for electricity. That notwithstanding, the country can explore other alternatives like solar power – which though expensive, will prove efficient in the long run. This however is just one man talking. What do you think can be done to curb the energy crisis once and for all so we can finally get good value for our money?


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