Utility consumers in the Ashanti Region have called on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to put on hold any planned tariff increases until the utility providers improved the quality of their services.
They said they had had enough of what they termed “high utility charges” amid poor service delivery.
Contributing to discussions on the proposed tariff increases by the service providers in Kumasi on Tuesday, they said they found it completely unacceptable that rise in tariffs over the years had not been matched by noticeable improvement in the quality of services.
They expressed the sentiment at a public forum organized by the PURC to collate views of consumers on the demand for upward adjustment in tariffs made by the utility providers – Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Water Company (GWC).
Members of various business associations including the Ghana Hairdressers Association, the Association of Ghana Industries, Association of Small-Scale Industries, Barbers Association and Ghana Wood Workers were present to state their positions.
They pointed out that the prevailing harsh economic situation, made worse by irregular power supply and its resultant load shedding, had severely crippled their operations and therefore opposed any idea of raising the tariff levels.
The utility companies together had proposed an upward review of tariffs by over 100 per cent – from 44 pesewas to 100 pesewas per unit of utility provided.
The consumers said if this demand was granted most businesses would collapse and more people would lose their jobs.
Mr Joseph Adoko, Principal Financial Analyst at the VRA, told the gathering that they were using about 80 per cent of their revenue to buy oil and gas to power thermal plants to generate electricity.
Mr Kofi Owiredu, Marketing and Operations Manager of GRIDCO, said the Company needed enough revenue to build additional transmission lines and other equipment so as to be able to transmit additional power, being generated by VRA.
Mr Ebenezer Baiden, Manager in-charge of Tariffs at the ECG, said they were installing new transformers and improving customer service at all centres.
Nana Yaw Barima Barnie, Commercial Manager of GWC, announced that the company had spent about US$768 million within the last three years to upgrade its facilities.
Dr. Emmanuel Annan, Chairman of the PURC, said the public hearing was to listen to the concerns of the people before any decision on the proposed tariffs was taken.