Power minister declares zero tolerance for vandalism, illegal connection.

The Minister for Power, Kwabena Donkor, has fired a barrage of stern warnings, saying the law will deal rigorously with any youth who vandalises property belonging to the sector and those who indulge in illegal connection.

The minister issued these warnings Wednesday when he commissioned a rural electrification project at Kulbia, a community in Bolgatanga, Upper East Regional capital.

“I’m pleading with the youth in the catchment area of NEDCo (Northern Electricity Distribution Company) that I have zero tolerance for vandalism. Anybody, irrespective of party colour, irrespective of ethnicity, irrespective of gender, irrespective of social status, who vandalises any of the assets under my charge, will face the full rigours of the law.

“I am fed up with some small segment of our youth dragging our name into disrepute. There is no impunity in the power sector. If you steal power, we will arrest you and take you to court. If you steal power, we will treat you as a thief,” the minister said.

Reiterating government’s commitment to weaning the NEDCo from the Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr. Donkor indicated that this goal cannot be attained so long as some consumers of electricity continue to default in paying their electricity bills. He, thereby, charged traditional authorities in the region to pay their bills regularly for the power consumed at their palaces, saying this will encourage their subjects to honour their bills.

“The days when we saw electricity as for free are over, and we must recognise our new reality. Our traditional fathers, I want to implore you to let your sons and daughters know that everyone must pay for electricity consumed. And, therefore, I appeal to our traditional rulers to set the example. Palaces are not exempt from the payment of electricity bills. We also want to implore you to ensure that we conserve power in our various localities,” he stressed.

Seventeen communities, according to the assemblyman for Kulbia, Gabriel Anaba, will benefit from the newly commissioned project. Each of the communities has been provided with a transformer. But some residents of the area led by the chief of the area, Naba Akadana Akurugu, are worried because access to electricity service poles has remained difficult for some households.

Ninety-one houses and twenty-one households in the area need extension poles and service poles respectively. The population of the community, according to the immediate-past assemblyman for area, Gabriel Anaba, is pegged at about seven thousand, five hundred and fifty (7,550).

Schoolchildren in the community, hitherto, used to travel long distances at night to communities already connected to the national grid to prepare for their examinations. And until now, the women in the area had no choice but to trek miles to mill grains and seeds for lack of electricity in the area.

“We thank God and the government of Ghana for this wonderful development. All our students can now read their books in the house. In the past they had to go to some places and look for light to read. I want to add that some of the houses are not getting the service poles. We want to plead with government to help those houses to get the service poles,” John Asaah, an opinion leader in the community, said.

The minister also inspected some installations at Navrongo and a Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) sub-station being upgraded in Bolgatanga.

Story by Edward Adeti (Upper East Correspondent)