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General News
VRA Displeased with Minister''s ''lies'' 6/19/2007
Minister Holds crisis meeting with management & senior staff but Engineers say he lied to the public & warns against Bui Development Authority
After making what even some senior government ministers and leading NPP officials have described as a ‘big mistake’, Energy Minister Joseph Kofi Adda late last week dashed to the Volta River Authority (VRA) in an attempt to placate the management and staff he had earlier in the week blamed for the country’s current energy crisis.

The VRA & especially its engineers have according to information available to the dailyEXPRESS expressed their displeasure at the Minister’s ‘lies’ especially when it is well known that several memos or discussions are exchanged between the VRA and the ministry daily and “you know what, as far back as April 2006 we were operating below 240ft and all that information were communicated to the Ministry... why would we keep that information and for what?”

Mr. Adda who embarked on a number of ‘not too successful’ PR gimmicks last week shocked many when he blamed the energy crisis on the VRA experts who he also accused of sabotage.

According to him, the country would have been spared the crisis if the VRA engineers had advised government appropriately, adding that he had expected that the VRA would have a research division “constantly monitoring the cloud, liaise with the meteorological service and advice us for us to do some serious forward planning.”

But sources within the VRA have questioned the rationale for the Minister’s pronouncements, with the internal wrangling forcing the Mr. Adda to meet up with the VRA management & senior staff.

Deputy Chief Executive Joe Wiafe in a telephone interview confirmed the Minister’s meeting with the VRA team but said the details of the meeting “are not for third party consumption.”

Mr. Wiafe would not state the Authority’s official position on the Minister’s accusation and won’t make any statement on the anger of the VRA senior staff and engineers, but said “we’ve a way of resolving some issues, and the minister has visited us for some discussions.”

Mr. Wiafe confirmed that the VRA has in a memo to parliament offered its advice on the proposed operation of a Bui Development Authority to manage the Bui Hydro Electric Power Project.

The VRA in a memo to Parliament’s Committee on Mines & Energy noted that it has concerns with the post construction management of the Bui dam stating that the VRA “is of the respectful but firm belief and opinion that if the Bui Development Authority is operated as envisaged under the Bill, it will have serious adverse consequences on the operations of the Akosombo & Kpong Hydroelectric Power Stations.”

Government supported by the majority in parliament have kicked against the VRA’s advice with the minority championing the position that the VRA manages the Bui dam as part of its functions.

Making a case for a single manager for the three dams, the VRA told parliament that “during the period of impounding the Bui dam, there is a very real likelihood of water from the Black Volta, one of the two major tributaries of the Volta River being cut off from the Volta Lake for several years which will adversely affect the output of the Akosombo and Kpong Generation Stations since Bui Dam has a very high head. If one body is to manage the whole Volta River Development it may be better placed to manage the impounding of the Lake in such a manner as no to reduce the output of the other generating stations, downstream, namely Akosombo and Kpong.”

The VRA’s expert view which is also available to the Energy Minister further reminds the law makers that while there’s a potential for collaboration between the VRA and the Bui Authority (should it be operational), the operations of the Akosombo & Kpong can suffer if they both decide to do things their way.

“... if each institution is to stick to the letter of its enabling act, Bui Authority could literally stifle the operations of the Akosombo and Kpong generation stations which still remain the backbone of Ghana’s power sector.”

dailyEXPRESS -Xoese DOGBE (xoese.dogbe@dailyexpressonline.com)

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