The Ako Adjei Park area of Osu, Accra, also known as Christiansborg, is next door to Oxford Street, one of the most vibrant – and fashionable – areas of business activity in Ghana.
On Sunday, 17 December 2017, I was caught as I tried to use the Street in a car: almost the whole of it had been closed to motor traffic, as an interesting “street market” was operating there.
It was a magnificent sight: all manner of goods were being displayed along almost the entire road. Manufacturers and traders exhibited some of their wares for sale to customers, who were being entertained with pulsing music from loudspeakers. I was pleasantly surprised – I’d heard nothing about this event [why?] and came across it totally unprepared. Therefore, the only thing I bought was a jar of ‘Royal’ Cocoa Powder. At GH¢12, it was a good price and I am glad to say that it was perfect when I prepared it for drinking, it’s taken my mind off coffee for the moment.
Congratulations to “Golden Tree”, which continues to produce cocoa powder beverage of world-class quality.
I didn’t see Ghana coffee, though. Was it because my ‘shopping’ was rather half-hearted? I only looked at products that caught my eye, whereas perhaps I should probably have asked where to find what. But whom to ask from? There was no sign of any central information centre, I am afraid. If the organisers produce another street market, they would be well-advised to group similar products near to each other. If there had been a spot allocated to “beverages” only, for instance, I would have been able to progress from Ghana Cocoa seamlessly on to Ghana Coffee, I think. The thing about a good market is that it makes shopping easy, especially if one had not planned to shop but was only buying things as and when they attracted one’s notice.
I mention the vibrancy of business activity at Oxford Street because I marvel how the retailers and others who do business there manage to keep their enterprises alive. For within a period often days, I counted no less than three episodes of ‘DumsƆ’! In the area and its environs. As Christmas was approaching when these blackouts occurred, businesses that do not possess generator back-ups may almost certainly have suffered considerable losses.
As for private homes, one does not need to describe the consternation they have faced. Should the blackouts continue sporadically into the period of festivities, where will celebrants keep the turkey before it is roasted? Imagine one is forced to consider other delicacies that are less expensive but which are likely to run short during the festivities, and one buys enough for the entire period! What does one do with the purchases if ‘DumsƆ’ strikes?
(The Daily Graphic ran a story on 20 December2017, which reported that a countrywide survey of prices had already seen sharp increases in foodstuff prices, which means that people would be induced to buy in greater quantities than they normally would. If they are not lucky, however, it will be ‘DumsƆ’ that will consume what they buy and try to store!)
I urge our Energy Minister to bring some sanity into our electricity supply/distribution systems. Enough noise — and I daresay money – has been expended on this power conundrum of ours for it to keep throwing “challenges” into our faces. These “challenges” that translate into rotten meat, fish and fresh vegetables in our deep freezers. The voters brought the NPP to power because they were confident that it would put men women into important positions, who would exhibit enough skill and brain-power to make annoyances like ‘DumsƆ’ a thing of the unglorious past.
One year is a very long time in politics; the NPP ministers ought to note.
Indeed, the whole of the electricity issue is clouded in mystery and one cannot readily ascertain where the problem lies. Is it caused by a continuing shortage of generating capacity? Or is the power being generated but not being efficiently distributed? Are “vultures” still causing power shortages by getting themselves electrocuted when they stupidly “perch” on cable pylons? (!)
It must be said that quite a lot of money has recently been pouring into the coffers of the Electricity Company of Ghana. Electricity in Ghana is not cheap: I know a household of three whose electricity bill came to GH¢2,000 in just one month! And government and para-statal organisations are being threatened with power-cuts if they don’t settle their bills. The other day, a friend sent someone to queue up for hours to buy credit for his pre-paid meter but the queue was so long that the chap had to go back the next day. So the ECG cannot claim not to have enough resources to (say) refit old transformer stations or carry out cable repairs.
Perhaps, the Energy Minister should establish a team that can visit electricity installations and find out directly what’s going on. When was the last inspection carried out? What are the components that tend to fail most often and have adequate reserve supplies of those items been purchased? Are there any long-lasting disputes between the electricity producer and the distributor, which are affecting the smooth delivery of power to consumers, and if so, what can be done to resolve them quickly?
The NPP government is looked upon with hope and confidence by the electorate. Please let not their hopes be dashed. The government can carry out elaborate publicity campaigns. The president can deliver many speeches urging Ghanaians to work hard to bring productivity back into the economy. But if the populace cannot see a marked improvement in the delivery of basic services like electricity and water to their homes, they will be unimpressed. They will remain cynical and accept the fact that, as the propaganda goes, “Obiara ba a, saa!” (Whoever comes to power, the same things will happen!) That’s a bad enough indictment of our entire political system, isn’t t?
By CAMERON DUODU