Gov’t's Pokuase interchange construction 'excuse' for power crisis rejected

Gov’t's Pokuase interchange construction 'excuse' for power crisis rejected
Source: Ghana|myjoyonline.com|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 15-03-2019 Time: 09:03:46:pm
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The Minister of Energy, Mr John Peter Amewu, has blamed the power outages on technical challenges and ruled out a return to the dark days of a protracted power crisis.

Government’s handling of resurgent power cuts has been criticised by opposition politician John Jinapor as an afterthought.

 

Government has said the construction of a $84m interchange at Pokuase in Accra has affected 330kv transmission lines from Western region’s Aboadze power enclave to Accra.

Photo: The Pokuase interchange project is jointly funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and government is expected to be completed in April 2020.

With the shutdown, power has had to be transmitted from Akosombo in the Eastern region through to Mallam, Winneba and Cape Coast and to the Western region.

But this transmission goes through a 161kV transmission line, far lower than 330kV lines that have been disabled.

It has left large chunks of towns and cities in all 16 regions without the regular supply of power, an extensive effect which is resurrecting fears of another episode of a crippling energy crisis between 2012 and 2016.


John Jinapor, who is a former Deputy Power minister under the Mahama-led NDC government, has questioned government’s thinking in failing to alert consumers that the planned construction works could trigger black-outs.

“If I know that I am going to bring down a line and I know that it is will cause disruptions, is it not proper that you inform consumers ahead of time?” he quizzed.

Image result for john jinapor
Photo: John Jinapor is NDC MP for Yapei/Kusawgu Region in the Northern Region

He argued that blaming the power cuts on tripping of transmission lines severely understates the problem.

John Jinapor said Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) which manages transmission lines in the power sector is severely bankrupt.

According to him, Gridco appeared before a Parliamentary Committee and revealed it made a loss of $140 million in 2018 and projects to make losses of about $345 million in 2019.

The lack of finances, he said, is set to frustrate its capacity to properly upgrade transmission lines which in turn will prolong power supply challenges.

A French agency expected to fund the upgrading of transmission lines from 161kV to 330kV has halted financing arrangement.

The agency, he said, discovered GRIDCo does not have enough resources or assets to meet short-term financial obligations, technically defined as a bad current ratio.

Mr Jinapor said the French financiers found GRIDCo’s current ratio is expected to drop from 0.9 to 0.6, triggering fears the company may not be able to pay back short-term obligations promptly. The current ratio used to be 1.85 in 2014.

He also rejected an explanation that a problem at the Achimota sub-station in Accra cut out power.

The former Deputy minister said a power cut from the Achimota sub-station could not have affected residents as far as Tamale in the Northern region.

He explained that the Northern sector takes its power from the Western regional towns Aboadze through Prestea, through the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, to the Northern sector.

The NDC politician observed, the power problem is not a technical challenge but a financial challenge.

He said the Ghana Gas Company has a debt of about $850 million while ECG has reported a debt incurred in the last quarter was over ¢1 billion. GRIDCo’s reportedly has nearly ¢700 million locked up with debtors.

“Don’t just tell us tripping, tripping”, he rejected the government explanation and asked for a comprehensive solution.

President Akufo-Addo, taking over from John Mahama government, revealed it had been saddled with debts of up to $2.4 billion in the energy sector alone.

The NDC government has been blamed for racking up energy sector debts. But John Jinapor has rejected this view, explaining the Energy Sector Levy which the government continues to collect, is meant to pay off these debts.

He said the NPP government has added fresh debts of about 13 billion cedis which is hurting the power sector.

 


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