Staff of the Ashanti Region Electricity Company of Ghana have clashed with officers of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in a bid to disconnect the state broadcaster at the regional level.
Tyres were deflated, taunts and insults were exchanged with minimal physical exchanges as officers of GBC prevented the army of ECG officers from disconneting them.
The state broadcaster in the Ashanti Region owes a whopping 1.75 million cedis in electricity debt to the power distributor, a situation that has left ECG almost crippled.
For a company criticised for incompetence and about to be privatized largely because it has failed to collect its debts, officers at the ECG, especially in the Ashanti Region have been desperate and fiery at the same time to collect monies from notorious debtors.
On Thursday and Friday there has been fierce exchanges as officers of the ECG embarked on the operation pay-your-debt-or-get-disconnected.
On Thursday they managed, successfully to disconnect, the regional office of the state broadcaster but had the tyres of their vehicles deflated in the process.
The Ashanti Region Director of the GBC Mr Sam Kwatia, personally went on a tyre deflating spree, amidst taunts at the ECG officers who were desperately taking videos for evidence.
Not even the threat of the videos will stop Mr Kwatia from deflating tyres of the vehicle owned by the ECG staff.
He has since defended his action, claiming unauthorised vehicles were not allowed into the premises and pointed to a notice board.
“This is one of such vehicles,” he added.
They told officials of ECG they will not be able to guarantee their safety, if they budge into the premises again to take the car away.
It had to take armed police men to have the vehicle moved from the offices of GBC, Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor reported.
The regional broadcaster is now operating with a generator which is running out of fuel. Mr Sam Kwatia says they will cease broadcasting if the fuel runs out.
He wanted the ECG heads to get more “cultured” people to go round to disconnect debtors and not use "hooligans.”
The PRO of the ECG Erastus Baidoo says they needed to find a way to take their monies which had accumulated for years.
He said they used diplomacy at various times to get customers to pay their debts but all to no avail.
It is now time to use all means possible to get their monies.
“The main issue is that they were owing 1.75million cedis and this has been an accumulated amount over time. The question is do we allow this to continue? The answer is no. So what do we do? We must find a way to disconnect them and they are not comfortable with that. If they had their own way we will use diplomacy, all manner of things just to buy time. But this time round we won’t entertain all these things,” he said.
“The debts continue to pile up. Do you know what 1.75million cedis can do for us? It can pay a lot of our creditors or suppliers” he said.
He said the only way out is for the state broadcaster to pay the debts.
The Information Minister Mustapha Hamid, under whose supervision the State Broadcaster falls has intervened in the matter.
He wrote a letter to the Energy Minister requesting him to organise a meeting between officials of GBC and ECG to find an amicable way to pay the debts, in a way that will not hamper the activities of ECG neither will it lead to the disconnection of GBC stations.
He said GBC is a public broadcaster which does not generate enough revenue but has to spend at least one million every month on electricity alone firing all the transmittors.
He was disappointed with the scuffle between the two institutions.
According to him, a cheque of 52,000 cedis has been issued to ECG as part payment of the debt owed in order to at least restore electricity to GBC in the Ashanti Region.
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