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‘Dumsor’ nightmare: Despair, grief, as hot, cold rooms kill all hopes

Source The Ghana Report

It’s that period again when hope is turned into misery, and expectation into desperation, due to circumstances beyond the most affected control.

It’s Saturday afternoon at Odorkor market and the sun is blazing hot at 32°C, with fumes from weed smokers bumping on traders and buyers.

The commercial centre is bustling as usual as the traders who sell items like onion, pepper, tomato, and other ingredients on table tops seem alright and continue to persuade passers-by to purchase from them.

Now, a stare at other groups of people reveals worried people some busily drying some packages in brown cartons in the sun, while some packages are being discarded in the waste bins.

What could be happening here?

That was the question that unveiled the trauma businessmen and women running cold stores at Odorkor market, situated in the Greater Accra Region have been going through since power outages in the country struck harder this time around.

Twelve years ago, the people of Ghana under the leadership of the opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) witnessed an intermittent power supply from which the term ‘Dumsor’, an Akan word was coined to express the unstable power situation.

Going forward, most citizens thought a change in government could avert the power crisis, but, at a point in time, the situation became worse with the Electricity Company of Ghana(ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), accusing each other for the inconsistency, in power supply.

However, power sector authorities have constantly been giving assurances that they are in control of the situation, with the incumbent government assuring the citizenry that the country will never return to dark days of severe power outages known as ‘dumsor’ which was faced under former President Mahama’s leadership.

Some cold store operators at Odorkor market in an interview with The Ghana Report, expressed worry about how the power crisis is affecting their businesses.

One of the well-known cold store operators at the market, Aunty Margaret who felt the plight of cold store operators could not be resolved any moment, painfully shared how the power outages are draining her purse due to regular servicing of freezers.

“I have five freezers. Two are not working now because of the ‘dumsor’. They switch on the light and switch it off again without any notice, and that has been very consistent. This is affecting us.”

“If your refrigerator or freezer gets damaged and you want any refrigerator technician to look at it for you, only the motor can be charged about GH₵400.00 and adding the gas which will be filled in the motor,  you can make expenses of about GH₵800.00 for only one fridge” Aunty Margaret, one of the famous cold store operators at Odorkor market noted with The Ghana Report.

Two damaged freezers
Aunty Margaret’s two damaged freezers

 

“Me for instance I don’t have money to buy a generator like others do. I have run this business for 2o good years. I used to have six staff but because of the situation, I have sacked three of them, two ladies and one gentleman because I can’t pay them.

“As I’m speaking to you, I have gone for a loan to manage this business. Most of my friends have stopped operating in this cold store business because of losses but I can’t stop because I need to pay the loan I owe” she sighed.

Richard, a gentleman in his late thirties and an employee with one of the notable cold stores at the market also shared the same sentiment with the other cold store operators.

According to him, the boss lost over 50 million cedis recently due to the power cuts as most of the fish, tripe, and chicken went bad and could not be sold to customers.

“Here we sell fish, chicken, and ‘yemuadie'[tripe]. This light-out issue is seriously affecting us. Recently my boss lost over 50 million cedis as most of our products got spoilt and have to give to the Zoomlion boys to discard them. The issue is really serious,’ he noted.

Image of decomposing fish
Image of decomposing fish in cartons

 

Image of putrefying chicken
Image of putrefying chicken

 

Another famous female cold store operator affectionately called ‘Yesu fa omu bra’ at the market shared her experience with the intermittent power supply in the country.

Initially, she questioned the offense of the people of Odorkor to the government, leading to consistent power cuts daily in the area.

“I have a cold room and one freezer. The freezer is currently not working because of the ‘dumsor’. I only depend on the cold room and even with that due to the power cuts within a week, engineers have to service it about three times.

“You have to pay workers. I used to have two workers but one has been sacked due to this same light-out issue. This store was rented and I have a loan to pay as well. The most annoying thing is that you will buy prepaid for about GH₵500.00 and within three or sometimes two days everything gets finished on the meter. Why? she quizzes.

Cold room
Cold room

 

The situation is no different from other business owners on electricity to operate their businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) is mounting intense pressure on the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to publish a load-shedding timetable to allow its members to better plan their business activities.

Several businesses have been affected negatively by intermittent power cuts in the last two months, and the operators are calling for measures to mitigate the impact.

In a statement signed by its Director of Communications, Joseph Paddy, GUTA highlighted the significant impact of the power outages on various sectors, including agriculture, trade, and industry.

Various quarters, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC), have called for ECG to release a load-management schedule, but there has been no positive response.

READ ALSO: PURC Fines ECG Board Members GH¢5.868m Over ‘Dumsor Timetable’

GUTA also decried the high operational costs incurred by businesses due to the irregular power supply, necessitating the heavy use of fuel to run generators.

“Moreover, the unpredictable power outages force many shop owners to rely on generators, leading to additional expenses on fuel procurement and storage in anticipation of power disruptions.

“Manufacturers, in particular, are grappling with how to maintain production schedules and workforce planning due to the inconsistent power supply, which not only escalates production costs but also exacerbates the living conditions of citizens,” GUTA emphasized.

The business association underscored the widespread impact of the development on various sectors, including traders, shop owners, wholesalers, tailors, electricians, artisans, and other businesses reliant on electricity, characterizing the situation as untenable for the nation’s business community.

Challenge

Energy experts have attributed the intermittent power supply in Ghana to debt owed to independent power producers Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited.

It will be recalled that a statement issued on Monday, December 4, 2023, and signed by Qun Yang, Chairman of Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited announced an indefinite shutdown of its 560 Megawatts power plant due to the outstanding debt owed it by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

“This difficult decision became necessary due to avoidable delays in payment from the GOG/Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for power supplied, as well as, the unproductive engagements to find an amicable solution,” portions of the statement said.

The company said this was its last resort as “the accumulating bills have significantly impacted our operational capacities, making it unsustainable to continue without addressing these financial challenges” it noted.

Later on, the management of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) through the support of the government paid $30m out of the interim sum of $60 million owed and pledged to be paid in two tranches to independent power producer Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited, with the assurance of settling the outstanding amount later.

8 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    This dumsor situation is very terrible. I have a salon and faces similar situation. Thank you for bringing the situation to government’s attention.

  2. Anonymous says

    The dumsor has affected me in so many ways it’s very irritating now I have most of my electrical appliances spoilt due to this dumsor I’m pleading with the government to do something about it for us

  3. Anonymous says

    The Dumsor situation has affected my work alot.I have lost most of my customers.

  4. Anonymous says

    It’s not Dumer is Dumer seseye

  5. Anonymous says

    We have the men!!

  6. Anonymous says

    I can think far😄😃😃

  7. Anonymous says

    “When you have bad leaders in the country, many problems arise.”

  8. Anonymous says

    What’s happening in this country

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