Heads will soon roll at the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) where information available to The Mirror indicates that some members of staff and contractors have been caught red-handed in illegal deals in yet-to-be released video recordings from undercover investigations conducted by ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremyaw Anas.
The investigations by Anas and the team from his Tiger Eye Investigations Company, also exposed about 354 private and state enterprises that had for various reasons failed to settle their electricity bills, totalling about Gh¢172 million as of November 2011.
Some ECG employees with their official identity tags around their necks were clearly seen in the recording engaging in illegal meter sales and receiving money from members of the public who appeared to be desperately in need of electricity billing meters.
Though the official prices of single-phased meters range between GH¢80.50 and GH¢92.50, some employees and illegal middle-men popularly known as Goro Boys were spotted in the video selling the same for between GH¢250 and GH¢650 depending on the area where the unlawful transactions took place. And three-phased meters that officially go for between GH¢100 and GH¢170 were being sold between GH¢800 and GH¢1500.
One ECG official who was caught extorting money from a member of the public was heard telling him, “You say you want a meter and you brought GH¢50.00. It is GH¢500.00. You think getting a meter in one week is a joke, and which meter can GH¢50.00 buy? Have you seen a GH¢50.00 meter before? You are not serious.” This particular official succeeded in selling the meter for GH¢500.00 while another officer sold one for GH¢600.00.
The Tiger Eye investigations also uncovered various acts of malfeasance involving not only staff of ECG but some corporate bodies and private individuals who connived with some employees of the ECG to engage in several illegal modes of sabotaging electricity revenue.
These included meter tampering, where some workers at ECG altered the bills (reducing the amount to be paid) Dr companies and individuals.
Others do what is technically known as bypassing, which joining two main wires together for power, thus practically stopping the meter from recording the amount of power used for accurate billing.
There was also what was described as mastercard manipulation, where the saboteurs also tampered with the way prepaid meters worked. Besides these illegal activities, some staff of ECG demanded bribes, known in ECG parlance as “CROUCH” from customers before offering them services.
Other woes of the nation’s power company as shown in the recording included cables and meter theft, illegal contract deals and illegal connections. According to the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), there were too many illegal connections in the country leading to 1007 electricity-related fires between 2000 and 2005. Between 2006 and 2010 the cases shot up to 1,179.
Despite $250 million that the World Bank together with other aid donors gave out to support the Ghana Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP), very little seems to have been done to improve electricity supply in the country due to the rot in the power sector, especially at ECG.
A public relations officer at ECG, Mr William Boateng told The Mirror on phone that he had had a hint of the yet-to-be-released video recordings, saying that, “We are aware of the issues raised and I am happy to say that we have already started putting measures in place to check staff members, middlemen (Goro boys) and contractors, who engage in activities that bring the name of the company into disrepute”.
The ‘Goro boys’ issues have come up several times and we have embarked on public education campaigns to advise the public against dealing with middlemen, he said, adding that very soon official contractors of ECG would be made to wear special gears and also use identification tags to differentiate them from those who operated around our offices illegally.
He said when the ECG management gets a copy of the recordings, it will conduct its own investigations and all those found culpable will be taken through the company’s disciplinary processes and the necessary sanctions, including dismissal, will be applied.
A source at Tiger Eye told The Mirror that Anas’ investigations followed the concerns raised by the President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, about the poor services offered by the ECG.
The three-part video recording will be aired on various television stations from Wednesday, January 18, according to the source.