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Increasing Electricity Tariffs under “Dumsor” is Insane

Mon, 11 May 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Folks, have you read the news report attributed to Dr. Kwabena Donkor that electricity tariffs will be raised despite the persistence of “Dumsor”? I have, and I am outraged by that intention. Before it become a damaging reality, I want to caution the government against doing anything of the sort.

It shouldn’t push the people to the wall; they can be dangerously resilient in times like these when there is much already happening to set them on edge. (Read the news report here: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=357393 )

Indeed, this “Dumsor” crisis will go down in history as the worst-ever challenge to have rocked the government. How it is going about solving it is irritating. Promises upon promises and declaration of grand designs on paper haven’t helped in any way. Neither have they allayed public concerns, apprehensions, and resentment against the deprivations resulting from the “Dumsor” evil. So, against this negative background, should a social-democratic government go ahead to increase electricity tariffs? No!!!!!

The “Dumsor4” crisis is the result of decades of mismanagement, incompetence, and lack of vision on the part of the various governments and the managers of the energy sector. It is not John Dramani Mahama’s creation; but in his tenure, it has become a major political issue that will either make or mar his political fortunes, especially now that it has proved 6to be intractable and is daily assuming ugly dimensions.

To the opposition, the “Dumsor” crisis is a clear manifestation of the government’s inability to solve problems; to the government, it is a challenge that it thinks it can solve, which is why it has engaged all kinds of damage controllers to spew out just anything to salve its conscience. But that “just anything” isn’t solving any problem as far as public sentiments are concerned.

As of now, the unpalatable message for the government is that this “Dumsor” crisis is an albatross that will weigh it down at Election 2016, even if it is solved sooner than predicted. It will be so because it has already wreaked much havoc on the domestic and business sectors of national life.

As businesses couldn’t function, they laid off workers; as electricity supply for domestic use became erratic and annoyingly unavailable when most needed, the citizens have resorted to any means to eke their livelihood and suffered adverse consequences. They won’t forgive the government for disrupting their lives.

We can tell from the barrage of criticisms and open attacks on the government (especially President Mahama himself) that this “Dumsor” crisis has very deep political ramifications. Whether those launching the attacks are political opponents, so-called Ghanaian celebrities, the business community, the clergy, or whatever doesn’t really matter at this point. It doesn’t have to lie with any identifiable group of people. It is certainly a matter of grave national concern, which is why the government must take a harder look at its strategies for addressing it.

Clearly, this “Dumsor” hazard has overshadowed everything else happening to be used for the electi0oneering campaigns. It has already provided eno0ugh ammunition for the opposition with which to shoot the government from all angles. They have a strong arsenal to rely on, which will resonate with the electorate. What will be the government’s campaign messages? That it has constructed development projects and should be rewarded with a renewal of its mandate? Or that it has done what particularly?

Folks, the government has set itself an uphill task and will be at the mercy of its detractors. Even those of us ardently supporting it will not deceive ourselves that it has a smooth path toward victory at Election 2016. It will not easily coast to that victory, given the reality of the Ghanaian situation as engendered by this “Dumsor” crisis.

It will be far easier for the opposition to attack it on that score and win the hearts of the voters than it will be for the government to deflect those messages with promises and assurances of solving problems—when it has taken it far too long to prove that it is capable of solving the pertinent problems that are strong indications of its inadequacies at several levels.

Talk about corruption and the government’s inability to put anything concrete in place to assure the citizens that it is solving it. Then, add to it many other problem areas (the daily news reports of mismanagement at the institutions of state) and you should know where the tide flows.

It must be pointed out here that the citizens will be willing to retain in power a government that has been able to prove that it is moving the country into a bright future, not returning it into the dark days. If the government is able to put the economy on a strong keel for the people to see things for themselves, they won’t hesitate renewing its mandate. But if it fails to do so, it shouldn’t expect to be retained. It may do anything at all that lies in power, but it won’t cut butter. It is a hard truth to chew on!!

As of now, it seems the government is toying with this major national crisis (“Dumsor”) and should be prepared for the negative backlash. As for the inanities of Dr. Kwabena Donkor that he will resign as the Minister of Power (or Electricity) if by January 1, 2016, the crisis is not solved, the least said about them the better. How does he think he matters to Ghana, anyway? If I were the appointing authority, I would kick him out on that basis alone.

Here is what I foresee: If the government goes ahead to raise electricity tariffs, the citizens won’t take it. They will react in diverse ways, taking to the streets in protest and causing mayhem or simply hiding behind whatever smokescreens they may create to do selective sabotage (burning of electricity transformers or just anything regarded as “government property”) to show their frustration and anger. I am not out to incite anything of the sort, but I can use my God-given faculty to read a deeper meaning into the near future. It may sound sinister or snide, but that is what I foresee.

To prevent anything untoward, the government must not raise electricity tariffs for as long as this “Dumsor” crisis persists. Is it conscionable to exact so much from the citizens for what is not supplied regularly for them to consume? How much further does the government want to test the citizens’ patience? Why test Fate this way? How wicked can the authorities not be if they go ahead to raise the electricity (or any other utility service) tariff, especially in difficult times like these? Folks, there is more to talk about.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.