Power outages over – Gov’t owed WAPCo $19.3 million and $10m has been paid

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The government has paid $10 million to the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo) to cover part of the state’s indebtedness to the company to avert a possible power crisis and a load shedding exercise.

 

Deputy Minister of Energy, Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, has confirmed to the Daily Graphic that the government owed WAPCo $19.3 million.

 

The $10 million payment to WAPCo brings government’s payment to the company to $13 million after the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had earlier redeemed $3 million of the debt.

 

It leaves the government with an outstanding $6.3 million to clear with the gas pipeline company at this point.

Government’s intervention comes in the wake of recent extensive power outages across the country, with fears expressed widely among the population that a load shedding exercise could be on the cards.

 

The Ministry of Energy has explained that the power outages had come about because WAPCo cut gas supply to Ghana due to the outstanding debts.

 

But the deputy minister said that had been resolved as of last Wednesday, with supply now restored.

 

He said arrangements were in place for the GNPC to pay WAPCo the invoice for December by Monday, January 15, while the ministry, after engaging WAPCo, had made arrangements to ensure that invoices were not accumulated going forward.

 

WAPCo, he said, had threatened to cut supply on January 2, 2024, if payment was not made, but the ministry got the company to extend it to January 5, 2024.

 

Mr Mercer said there were no planned or scheduled power outages in Ghana, and that he was not sure that the entire load which was shed was up to one-third of total generation as had been alleged by some members of the Minority in Parliament.

 

“Dumsor is a protracted power outage of electricity over a long period of time. Under the current government, we have never had dumsor. Dumsor is not back, and it is not going to come back. We are ensuring the power is on,” he said.

 

Minority’s fears

 

A Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, John Jinapor, had suggested that a load shedding exercise could be imminent, but that the situation could be averted if the government fulfilled its financial obligation to the relevant companies.

 

In a facebook post, he wrote: “It is sad to note that the Cash Waterfall Mechanism (CWM) which was instituted to prevent the growth of the sector-wide indebtedness and ensure equitable distribution of revenues has been hijacked by the Ministry of Finance leading to serious challenges in the Energy sector. The sad news is that Ghanians will continue to sleep in darkness unless the government intervenes once more”.

 

He claimed that load shedding, popularly known as “dumsor”, was back as the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had shed 500 megawatts of power arising from the inability of Ghana to pay for gas consumed from WAPCo, leading to another shutdown of the pipeline.

 

Burden on consumers

 

The Executive Director of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), Duncan Amoah, said checks by the organisation indicated that “dumsor is lurking”.

 

“Our checks indicate that we may be in for a whole period of troubles if the government, through the Finance Ministry, does not make its financial commitments to the power sector players,” he said.

 

Mr Amoah said the mounting debt in the power sector, particularly what was owed to the independent power producers (IPPs), apart from the WAPCo debt, needed to be urgently addressed to tackle the power outages.

 

He said the government’s debts to the IPPs were already in the region of $2.4 billion.

 

“We keep piling debt and hoping the producers and suppliers will be magnanimous when Ghanaians cry to them, and that for us is worrying,” he said.

 

He said the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity was also worrying, saying although consumers were being pressured to pay more for electricity, “one wonders exactly what that money is used for”.

 

He said consumers were being burdened “as they will get home to darkness and be in the heat. The consumer who wants to watch television or turn on a fan to get a normal temperature to sleep will not get it. The authorities are not being fair to the Ghanaian consumer.

 

“We think the authorities should wake up, stop paying lip service, (stop) making empty promises, and channel the resources appropriately to avoid the looming dumsor situation on our hands,” he added.

 

 

Concerns

 

A hairdresser at Adabraka, Theresa Sam, said the sporadic disruptions to power supply that occurred unpredictably was affecting her business.

 

“The power situation is very bad. The dumsor is too much. It is damaging my gadgets and making it difficult for me to work as l need electricity for my business,” she said.

 

Ms sam said she had lost about GH¢400 daily in the last five days.

 

“The government must find a lasting solution to the power outages,” she pleaded.

 

A cold store operator at Ablekuman Manhean, Mohammed Alhassan, said apart from the power outages, the issue of low current was damaging his goods, electrical gadgets and equipment.

 

Opening his storage facility to the Daily Graphic, he said “look at how all the meat and fish are defrosting? If l don’t get power to get it frozen, they will all go waste, and it will affect me financially”.

 

Mr Alhassan, who said he was not in a position to purchase a power plant, said he was suffering a multiplicity of issues as he had to deal with high electricity bills and “unscheduled load shedding”.

 

At Kaneshie, a mother, Elizabeth Ankrah, said she had to sleep with her family outside her room at the mercy of mosquitoes due to power outage last Tuesday evening.

 

“The power was restored at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday after it went off in the afternoon of Tuesday. I had to fan my one-year-old son who had heat rashes all over his body and could not sleep,” she said.

 

Mrs Ankrah said she was unable to iron her children’s uniform and her dress, “and it was embarrassing going out in crumpled clothes”.

 

Source – Graphic online

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