Ghana — The effort by government to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity to the Afram Plains is under serious threat.
This is because most of the high tension poles that carry electricity to the various communities dotted all over the plains are wooden, which are susceptible to catching fire.
Bush burning in the Afram Plains during the dry season is a common practice by different groups of people for varied purposes.
For instance, herdsmen, mostly Fulanis, are said to often set fire to the dry bush to engender the fresh springing up of grass to feed their cattle while farmers prefer bush burning (a better and cheaper option of clearing their farms) to hiring labourers to weed for a fee.
Grasscutter hunters often set the bush on fire to force the animals out of their hideouts. Honey hunters and cigarette smokers are among the tall list of people who intentionally set the bush on fire.
It is a common sight during the dry season to see flames consuming the bush as well as high tension poles (which are mostly wooden).
From Ekye Amanfrom through Maamekrobo, Forifori, Tease to Donkorkrom and beyond most of the poles have been damaged and need have to be replaced.
The District Fire Service Officer, Mr E. Afari-Ackah, sees the practice of bush burning as attitudinal, which requires a gradual change, “because every year, we mount vigorous fire safety campaigns to educate the public on the effects of bush fires on their communities.”
Mr Afari-Ackah said for instance that during the dry season, his outfit usually visited churches, mosques and other public places to educate the people on fire safety.
He said that was particularly important because most houses in the farming communities were thatch houses and could easily catch fire, adding that on January 20, 2014, a whole community was destroyed by fire.
He said the Ghana Fire Service in the area was encouraging the formation of fire volunteer groups who weed round tension poles in their communities and this was yielding some positive results.
Commenting on what EGG was doing to ensure that there was no power interruption to consumers in the area, the District Manager of ECG, Mr Emmanuel Wodoku, said since the company could put lights out for a whole week to replace the wooden poles with aluminium ones, “we replace the damaged ones with the aluminium poles as and when they are damaged beyond usage.”
He said the company had taken various steps to prevent bush fires, which included the use of fire proof panes on the poles, wrapping the base of the poles with aluminium and contracting people to weed round the poles and under the high tension lines.
The question, however, is: why should the ECG, and for that matter government, use wooden poles instead of aluminium ones for electricity supply in such an area?
The development needs to be addressed to reverse the situation where so much public funds are lost to fires, (by way of damaged electric poles) before they are replaced with aluminium or concrete poles, also at great cost to the taxpayer.