General News Fri, 22 Sep 2006

Shut down of VALCO -NDC

THE NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) has once again opened political fire on the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the power crisis that has hit the nation in recent times.

The government, according to the NDC has known about the looming power crisis since the end of 2005 and that the lake level could not sustain the level of hydro electricity generation required for 2006, yet it kept this knowledge to itself and with only two days notice disrupted the production plans of all industrial and manufacturing entities.

Describing the current power crisis as a ‘horrific situation in the power sub-sector,’ the NDC said it cannot allow this to continue as it seriously threatens to stifle the nation’s civilization and socio-cultural evolution as a nation.

According to the party, “We find it difficult to understand the logic in the NPP’s programme to move Ghana to middle income status in 2010 when for six years they have not added even 1 kw out of the estimated 1,000MW of electricity required to reach that status,” arguing further that, “the nation could have avoided the calamity which has befallen us if we had a much more competent and capable government.”

At a press conference yesterday, addressed by its General Secretary, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, the NDC pointed out some failures of the NPP administration with regards to the current power crisis, demanding that the government take all the necessary measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people by reducing the duration and impact of the load-shedding exercise.

Among the demands of the NDC was that the government take VALCO off the system to make available more power to the rest of the economy, saying, “This measure will reduce the threat of total collapse of the Akosombo Hydro Plant, thereby bringing the whole of our national economic system to a standstill. This measure will also reduce the financial burden on VRA, as it is a fact that VRA produces power at the cost of 6.27 cents per kwh, but is forced to sell it to VALCO at 2.7 cents per kwh.”

According to the NDC, such a result of what it noted as awkward arrangement, VRA is recording financial losses of over $58 million per annum, an amount, which it said is now badly needed by the VRA to bring in Emergency Power Supplies.

Stressing their demand further, the NDC said the government should ensure the deployment of sufficient emergency power supplies to augment the distressed national power system.

Advocating for solutions for the medium term, the NDC urged the government to refrain from playing politics with the ‘Osagyefo’ Barge Project and see to its immediate deployment to add 125MW capacity preferable from the nation’s indigenous natural gas reserves in the Tano fields.

To this end, the party said, “The Petroleum agreement with Tullow Ghana Limited and Sabre and Gas Limited in respect of the Shallow water Tano contract area must be revised in a manner as to free the known gas of the Tano basin for immediate development and production to fuel the Osagyefo Barge at Effaso, as originally planned.”

The NDC challenged the government to, take bold and decisive action on the TICO (11) project that would add 110MW to the power needs of the country and also reactivate the Bui Dam Project.

Faulting the NPP over the power crisis, Mr. Nketiah, who was flanked by Dr. Kwabena Adjei, the national chairman of the NDC, Hajia Mariama Sinare and a host of party members including Hon. Enoch Teye Mensah, MP for Ningo Prampram, said, the current crisis was a serious indictment on the competence of the government.

“The NPP government has failed to execute any Demand Side Management (DSM) programme, as existed during the NDC administration because the Energy Fund meant for such programmes have been squandered by the ‘gutter-to-gutter’ friends and cronies of the NPP hierarchy,” the General Secretary charged.

To the NDC, the claim by the NPP administration that West Africa Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP) would be completed by April 2007, suggests that by now the construction of additional power generation and transmission facilities would have started, but, “It looks like the NPP government is waiting until the Nigerian gas reaches our shores before ordering the generating equipment, which is not an off-the-shelf- item.”

Mr. Nketiah, who recounted a number of moves taken by the NDC to avert the recurrence of such crisis, said, “In the view of the NDC, it shows the callousness and insensitivity of the NPP government. The current shady state of affairs shows NPP’s total lack of understanding and direction as far as the importance of the role of energy in the economic and social well-being of our country is concerned.”

The NDC stated that “this situation could have been avoided if the NPP administration committed itself to protecting the interest of Ghana and all its people rather than ‘rat-race’ of individual wealth acquisition, mostly through corrupt and foul means under the dictates of the ‘property-owning’ ideology.”

The NDC took issue with the Minister of Energy, saying, the NDC government knew and factored their expectation into their capacity expansion plan.

“It is therefore not acceptable that the Minister for Energy claims he was completely unaware of the progressively diminishing inflows into the lake and the rapid reduction in the levels of water in the dam until the level had actually fallen almost 4ft below the design minimum level of 240ft. this is evidence of sheer incompetence,” the General Secretary pointed out, adding that the situation was in contrast to what happened in 1997 under the regime of the NDC.

“In anticipation of the 1998 crisis, the VRA was made to send out a warning to the effect as early as October 31st 1997, when the level in the dam was as high a as 248ft (a whole 8ft above the design minimum of 240).”
Source: Chronicle
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