The news was not only nauseating but also irritating – the protracted misunderstanding between residents of Lower Manya Krobo and Power Distribution Services (PDS) over the payment of electricity bills, which has resulted in the unfortunate death of one person, the injury of five police officers and the arrest of 35 of the protestors.
According to reports, a violent clash ensued when the residents, led by a group that calls itself United Krobo Foundation (UKF), allegedly blocked the town road to prevent PDS officers from switching off the main transformer that supplies power to the town.
The disconnection exercise had been occasioned by unpaid electricity bills since 2014 because of a claim by the residents that there was an existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) which exempted them from the payment of electricity bills ad infinitum (forevermore) between their forefathers and the Volta River Authority (VRA) when the government took part of their lands for the construction of the Akosombo Dam.
The Finder recalls that the first time this issue came up was in January 2004 when some residents of the VRA resettlement communities served notice that they would stop paying electricity bills until the VRA fulfilled its obligation of paying compensation to the affected communities. And since then, anytime PDS (formerly ECG) officials went to the Yilo area of Kroboland to carry out a disconnection exercise, they were assaulted by the residents.
Ironically, the United Krobo Foundation, which is championing the cause of compensation, has not been able to produce any document on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was purported to have been reached between the VRA and the people of Krobo. Even more instructive is the fact that the late paramount chief of Manya Krobo, Oklemekuku Azu Mate-Kole, who was once Board Chairman of VRA, never once raised the issue of an MoU, which has now become the bone of contention between the people of Kroboland and the PDS.
The Finder is of the strong view that until the leaders of the Krobo Foundation produce the so-called MoU they are steadfastly clinging onto, they have no right stopping officers of the PDS from going about their legitimate business. Whichever way one looks at it, their actions are baseless and must be condemned by all right-thinking members of society.
Let us remember that the distribution and selling of electric power are now in the hands of a private entity, and it goes without saying that the PDS needs money to be able to meet its operational costs. It will be counter-productive if we refuse to settle our electricity bills and yet expect the PDS to provide quality uninterrupted services.
The fracas must end immediately. It is embarrassing to witness such level of lawlessness in this day and age. Shamefully, lawlessness is gradually becoming a national canker, and we must curb it as quickly as possible. The state has a duty to support the PDS to succeed.