‘Dum-fixing’ the power situation
Last week, I referred to my participation in a ‘dumsor must stop’ march a few years ago.
I grimace when I remember the situation then, even though on a holiday to the UK sometime in 2014, I could not wait to come back.
Perhaps it was a symptom of what is known as the Stockholm Syndrome, where a captive somehow bonds with his captors.
I had been in the UK for 19 long years before relocating to Ghana in 2011, and I suppose that Ghana, with all its dumsor and other issues, somehow had an appeal that the UK no longer held for me.
It was a torrid time back then. The sound of generators thundered everywhere. People were trapped in their offices after work because their earlier phone calls home to ask ‘Charley we get light?’ came back negative, and going home to mosquitoes and heat was not an attractive prospect.
Living in Kumasi then, I often had to flee to the Golden Tulip Hotel to get assignments completed on time.
We had to learn to iron clothes whenever there was power, rather and on an adhoc basis.
Collectively, we complained and demanded that the lights be fixed. We marched, we attended vigils.
Our patience was tested to the limit. How do you function in a 21st Century society without power? We had been thrust into the Stone Age, so to speak.
So, with all these experiences shared, I understand the plight of Ghanaians because just as the Israelites, they have battled their own Egyptians, have closed that chapter and do not want to be reminded by even the slightest flicker of lights. After all, our elders say that he who has been bitten by a snake is wary of even a worm, and rightly so.
Is dumsor back?
In recent times, there have been pockets of interrupted power supply experienced in some parts of Accra and Kumasi and I understand the agitation of Ghanaians on the substantive as arguments fly back and forth over whether ‘Dumsor is back’.
I certainly shudder at the thought of our collective past experience. However, the arrow from the bow misses the target when we try to engage in lengthy arguments instead of planning to expedite solutions.
Ghanaians deserve efficient and reliable power. They need the lights. Let’s relegate the rest of ‘dumsor’ or ‘no dumsor’ part of the conversation to the background.
The people of Ghana need solutions. So, the conversation should be centred around “what is causing the outages?”, “what is being done to combat it”? and “what are the timelines?”
The basic difficulty is the fact that with a growing population and increased demand on our power systems, the current transmission process is compromised.
Combatting the situation
The power value chain has three main components; generation, transmission and distribution. The present challenge lies with the transmission which is superintended by GRIDCo.
Essentially, the transmission system is compromised by the congested power lines, which then affects its reliability, given our population growth with a corresponding increase in demand, especially in the Accra and Kumasi areas.
In the Kumasi and middle belt areas, the situation has arisen because the 330KV power being transferred from the coast is compromised by the long distance and, therefore, it is unable to effectively serve the area with reliable power.
To combat this, a number of upgrade works are taking place, including;
- The Pokuase substation (Bulk Supply Point): This station on completion will harness a reliable and quality power supply for areas such as Pokuase, Kwabenya, Legon, Nsawam and its environs. The work is about 95% complete.
- The Kasoa Bulk Supply Point: This station on completion will improve reliability and quality of supply to Kasoa and its environs such as Senya Bereku, Bawjiase, Nyanyanu, just to mention a few. This programme will benefit 241,508 ECG customers. It is 60% complete.
- At present, a national transmission backbone under construction from the coast to Bolgatanga has a gap between Kintampo and Kumasi. This will ease the load on the Kumasi substations and become the instrument of power transmission within the Ashanti Region, Bono Region and the north.
- The Tema to Accra transmission line upgrade project to accommodate an increase from 161KV capacity to 330KV capacity.
In addition to this is the intention to move the Ameri Plant to the Ashanti Region to stabilise the area, given that the Bui Dam is performing well below capacity due to low water levels, meaning it is unable to provide the needed support.
On Sunday, the Energy Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, explained that as the BSP projects are completed, there will be the need to break into the electricity supply system in the relevant catchment areas to make it safe for a tie-in process, just as an electrician would need to turn off the electricity mains of your home to create a safe environment if he has to do some work there.
We have already come to the end of the timetable for the areas affected by the Pokuase BSP completion. In all of this, finance is not a problem.
Let us be clear. No Ghanaian wants dumsor back, certainly not within the meaning we are all accustomed to.
It destroys businesses and creates a great inconvenience for us all, and those days must be banished forever. What is needed is the forbearance of Ghanaians as the issues are resolved.
As the minister indicated, when the ‘dum’ happens, it is for a purpose – to fix the problem. This is ‘dum-fixing’ or ‘dum-siesie’.