No Electricity For Rural Communities, MP Cries Foul

…As 37 containers with 500 transformers detained at Tema port

At least, more than 500 transformers stacked in 37 containers meant for the Rural Electrification Project nationwide have been detained at the Tema Port in Accra over nonpayment of duties.

In addition to that, tones of aluminum cables, transformer coils, bolts and nuts, shackles and other electrical materials and equipment, all meant to be used to hook the rural communities onto the national grid have been locked up at the Tema Port.

Hon. Eric Opoku, Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region, disclosed this to The Republic at parliament in Accra yesterday.

According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government imported the electrical equipment and materials, through Welding Lamont Associates, an electrical company, for the Rural Electrification Project.

He said, the previous government, through parliament, granted tax exemption to Weldy Lamont to bring in the over 500 transformers to supply to rural communities under the Rural Electrification Project.

The company, he said, duly executed its contract and imported the transformers and other materials, including aluminum foil, nuts and bolts, to kick start the project in the beneficiary communities.

However, when the goods were brought in for clearance, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy failed or refused to issue a letter to Customs at the Tema port to exempt the transformers from duty tax.

Mr. Opoku said, most strangely, the ministry rather asked the company, Weldy Lamont, to pay the duties and bring payment receipt for reimbursement, but unfortunately the company said it was unable to pay the duties.

Ghana’s Parliament, amidst the controversy, in 2016, approved a $92 million contract for a Weldy Lamont and Hunan Construction Engineering Group Limited to execute rural electrification projects in the 10 regions, including Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Central and Western regions and Eastern, Volta and the three Northern regions respectively.

Mr. Opoku said if the transformers are not cleared at the port and allowed to stay, more rural communities will be denied their privilege to enjoy electricity.

He said the erstwhile National Democratic Congress government was working hard to ensure that all rural communities were provided with electricity by end of this year.

The Asunafo South legislator stated that when the National Electrification Scheme started in 1990 only 15 per cent of the country’s rural communities had electricity, but it was the policy of  the NDC Government to achieve Universal Access to Electricity by 2016/2017  to enhance the role of rural communities in national development.

He said about 2,900 communities were provided with electricity and it was the target of the NDC that over 1,800 more communities will benefit with electricity by 2016/2017.

Mr. Opoku bemoaned that with the instant case of over 500 transformers locked up in 37 containers at the Tema port, it means that communities that stand to benefit from the rural electricity for income-generating activities to improve their living standards and contribute towards national development will be denied.

He said Weldy Lamont Associates, the contractor of the project, was to undertake rural electrification projects in communities in the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Central and Western regions.

The company was expected to cover all its target communities by the end of 2016 or early 2017, but the detention of the equipment and material would hamper the speedy execution of the project, which is already hampered by poor road network to some of communities.

He therefore called on the government and, for that matter, the Ministry of Finance to take action in ensuring that the transformers are cleared at the port to enable the contractor to complete the project for communities to benefit use of electricity.



Source: Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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