Three persons, including an energy consultant, have been picked up by police on the orders of the Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Bukari, for their alleged roles in the disappearance of 500 steel electric poles from the region.
The galvanised poles, allotted to the region for the ongoing Phase I of the Five Regions Rural Electrification Project, reportedly were sneaked out of the region on articulated trucks at night in April, this year, to an unknown location in the south.
Explaining their actions to the furious-looking Regional Minister, the three men presented a letter purportedly signed by the Director of Distribution at the Ministry of Energy, Rev. Ign. William Hutton-Mensah, on behalf of the Minister for Energy, Boakye Agyarko, detailing them to withdraw the poles from the Upper East region.
Starr News, per the contents sighted in that letter dated April 17, 2018, understands a company called China International Water and Electric Corporation had asked the ministry for those poles on loan to complete a rural electrification project in some southern parts of the country. The ministry, through its Director of Distribution, also had given the company the green light to go for the poles.
It is not clear if the company specifically chose the poles in Rockson Bukari’s region. It also unclear yet if it was the ministry who recommended the Upper East region’s ration to the loan-seeking company. But one thing is clear: the ministry approved the request on condition that the materials “shall be replaced by mid-August, 2018”.
Letter from Ministry did not convince RM
Stamped and bearing the seal of the state, the letter looked authentic, but the Regional Minister was not convinced the sector minister would endorse the move.
He fumed as no one saw the need to have notified him before the poles were taken away even granted that the ministry had so decided. He burned all the more with anger because he suspected somebody somewhere just felt the distressed rural communities still groping in stark darkness in his region in the 21st century should bear it further than their limits.
He telephoned the police. Whilst the three men were in police custody, he placed calls to authorities at the ministry as he tried to research into the truth of the claims. Satisfactory answers were not forthcoming from Accra until Starr News left the scene of the Regional Minister’s endless phone calls in the regional capital, Bolgatanga.
Bring the Poles back— Regional Minister demands
Much aware of the fact that criminals, taking advantage of age-old lack of electricity in many parts of the region, have been unleashing terror on residents mostly during nighttime, Mr. Bukari was heard as he repeatedly pressed someone on the telephone, “We need those poles back! We need them badly!”
“The steel poles,” he told those around him after he had ended the telephone call, “are the most suitable for this part of the country.”
“Because they are metals, they can survive the recurrent bushfires that have been destroying the wooden poles. And they don’t break, unlike the wooden ones that easily get broken when windstorm hits us. They are just the best for our terrain here,” he added as the ‘flames’ in his eyes glared impatiently for the return of the poles.
Some observers murmured, saying the back-and-forth transportation of the poles was a needless drain on the taxpayer’s cedis.