21 September 2011

Ghana: Assemblies to Take Over Street Lighting

Kumasi — The poor management and maintenance of Ghana's street lighting system is expected to be a thing of the past, following the introduction of a new policy by the Ministry of Energy and the Energy Commission to regulate its operations.

The new policy, which is expected to become operational by the end of the month, would saddle Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) with the responsibility of overseeing the operations and maintenance of street lights in the major cities to ensure its efficiency.

The move, according to the Ministry of Energy, is to reduce waste in the generation of electricity, and also improve security in the country's major towns and villages.

It would also put to rest the uncertainty surrounding the entity with the responsibility of maintaining street lights in the country.

Under the policy, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) is expected to come out with a realistic End User Tariff (EUT) that would reflect the amount of units consumed every month, through street lighting by all consumers.

The Executive Director of the Energy Commission, Dr. Ofosu Ahenkan, stated this at a consultative meeting organised in Kumasi for some selected metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) from the Ashanti, Brong and Eastern regions, adding further that the new policy would not only reduce waste in energy generation, but also enhance and improve the country's poor street lighting system.

The consultative meeting is an ongoing programme to discuss the new policy and solicit views and suggestions from stakeholders, including the traditional authorities, on how to improve upon it.

Dr. Ofosu Ahenkan noted that the era where street lights often broke down and were left at the mercy of the weather and unscrupulous elements, would be completely eliminated once the assemblies take over the operations of the lights.

According to him, a district street lighting coordinating committee, which would include the police, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other institutions, would be established to monitor the smooth implementation of the policy.

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah, noted that the inefficient management of streetlights in the country, as a result of the lack of a clear understanding as to whose responsibility it was to install, manage and maintain them, had led to a situation where many street lights are left unattended to.

He, therefore, observed that the new policy framework would, among other things, provide security, road safety, and promote socio-economic development, harmonise standards and best practices in street lighting development, and establish the appropriate development, ownership, operation, and maintenance regime.

In a related development, Ernest Best Anane also reports that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is embarking on mass revenue collection in the Ashanti Region, to save the company from further indebtedness, and help improve upon service delivery to customers.

The company has embarked on a sensitisation programme to ensure that those who owe the company are disconnected if they do make full payment of their debts.

Mr. Erasmus Kyere Baidoo, Sectional Manager, Ashanti West and East, said all those who owed the company must settle their bills before September 26, 2011, no matter how small or big the amount is, or face disconnection.

He also said the company would, during the night, monitor illegal connections, and those who reconnect themselves after they have been disconnected would face the full rigours of the law.

He further appealed to the general public to report any illegal connection to them, because it was counter productive.

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