The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) says it is unable to maintain street lights because the levy paid by the public “is extremely low”.

Operations manager of the company, Andrew Tonto Barfour, told a media briefing in Accra last Friday, that since 1995 when the street light levy was fixed at 50 old pesewas per unit, it had not seen any increase.

“With the redenomination of the cedi, this amount has almost disappeared on the electricity bill and it is only people whose consumption rates are high who still pay something for this item on their bill,” he said.

Realistically, he said the public should not be paying anything less than GH¢O.03(¢3.30) per unit for street lights.

He said since the street light levy was not part of the electricity tariffs charged consumers; increase in tariffs over the years had excluded the street light levy.

“It is only Parliament that can legislate for increase in the levy and we •have made several efforts to get Parliament to increase it but to no avail,” he stated.

Mr Barfour gave these explanations at the meeting the ECG held with senior media personnel and editors to discuss the state of power delivery and the company’s ongoing projects.

The issue of nonfunctioning street lights which has thrown most of the streets into darkness, especially in the cities at night, took centre stage at the meeting.

The absence of street lights is believed to be a major cause of the increase in criminal activities which occur under the cover of darkness within the Cities.

Mr Barfour said while fixing streetlights was the responsibility of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, putting and switching them off is the responsibility of All Afra Company, the installers.

In his briefing, the Managing Director of ECG, Mr Jude Adu-Amankwah, said the issue of power outages had been substantially resolved.

He said outages could only occur through damage or other technical faults but not as a result of energy generation problem.

He attributed the improvement to the upgrading of sub-transmission and distribution networks to provide firm capacity and alternative sources of supply.

Other strategies inelude reinforcement and expansion of the distribution network, introduction of live line work to reduce customer-lost hours during fault resolution and restoration, and installation of prepaid meters in all operational areas to address revenue collection challenges.

Mr Adu-Amankwah said by the next two years, the whole of Accra would have been covered by the pre-paid meter system. Tema and the Eastern Region where a total of 200,000 meters will be installed will be covered soon.

To ensure supply reliability and availability, he said the ECG had constructed a third Bulk Supply Point (BSP) in Accra, a second BSP in Kumasi and upgraded’ the Mallam BSP.

Among the ongoing projects are the construction of 25 primary substations and connecting 33kv and lkv circuits in Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Elmina and Takoradi, provision of switching stations at strategic locations in Jasikan, Bogoso, Dodowa, Akuse, Kasoa and Bunso and a 90 million-dollar rural electrification project which began in 2007 under a China Exim Bank redit.

Mr Adu-Amankwah said the capital investment in the company would, among other things, reduce the system loss by one per cent every year, reduce supply network time by 20 hours in average annual unplanned outages per customer per year and also improve voltage stability.

He said last year, ECG made a loss of GH¢8 million due to the electricity crisis while its overheads remained the same: the company still had to pay all staff and carry out maintenance works among other responsibilities.

Source: Ghanaian Times