Parliament has directed the Minister for Defence to order the immediate withdrawal of soldiers in the Lower Manya Krobo Constituency in the Eastern Region.
The soldiers are assisting the ECG with the installation of new prepaid meters following months of hostility between residents and the ECG over the payment of electricity bills.
Member of Parliament for the area, Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi raised the matter on the floor of the house on Friday, June 24, 2022, indicating that the presence of the military men is heightening tensions in the community.
Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah, subsequently issued directives to the Ministers for Energy and Defence on the matter.
“We are also directing that, the Minister for Defence withdraws the military attaché in the area for the time being for us to address certain matters, I so direct.”
The ECG has justified the use of military personnel during the exercise.
The deployment was because previous attempts at introducing prepaid meters in the enclave caused a rift between residents and workers of ECG, with a case where ECG officials were physically assaulted in the past.
But following a recent stakeholder consultation amongst interested parties aimed at finding an amicable solution, an agreement was arrived at to commence the process.
Some persons have expressed surprise about the military deployment in the operation.
But, Sakyiwaa Mensah who speaks for the ECG in the Tema Region and has oversight responsibilities in that part of the Eastern Region explained that while there are police officers as part of the operation to provide protection for the installers, the presence of the military is only to provide technical support during the exercise.
“We have the support from these men in uniform as well, but they are here to provide technical support for the meter installation. ECG through our training school has been collaborating with the military for over two decades on electrical issues. It was decided that they should be part of the operation. The police are the ones providing security for the operation. Let’s be collaborative because the fact that you see military men in uniform doesn’t mean that necessarily they are going to harm people just like that.”
She was quick to add that the exercise had been encouraging, although there were still some residents who kicked against the installation of the prepaid meters.
“We have currently done 250 meters in the Kpong and Somanya areas. Some customers came on their own to request for the meters and some were replaced meters. We’ve had some good and bad experiences. Some of the customers still say they do not want the prepaid meters. The contractor installed about six in one of the areas and some of the residents agitated that they do not want the prepaid meters, so the contractor had to remove these meters”.