Fear Grips VRA Senior Staffs Over Government Power Sector Reforms

The Senior Staff Association of the Volta River Authority (VRA) expresses fear at government's decision to make reforms at the power sector which is intended to bring the management of the hydro plants under one entity

The Association is questioning the necessity of the reforms especially considering the fact they are not the only power generating entity in the country

President John Dramani Mahama at the 2015 State of Nation's Address stated among others "Thirdly, we have to achieve energy security into the future, we must complete the reformof our power sector. The new Ministry of power is working urgently on proposals to restructure power sector beginning with the Volta River Authority and Bui Power Authority"

The President added if plans for energy security were to succeed, radical restructuring of the downstream distribution sector must occur

The Minister of power was therefore directed by the President to put in place the necessary measures to actualized government intention and therefore a committee has been step up to advice on that

Even though the committee has not completed its work, there have been speculations on the recommendations of the committee

This has caused a significant magnitude of uneasiness, anxiety and trepidation especially within the senior staff of the Volta River Authority forcing the Association to dedicate this year's National Delegate Congress to probing further and demanding answers from the authorities of the VRA and government representatives at the power sector on issues concerning the reforms

The Congress which was held in Tamale was under the keystone "VRA Restructuring in Response to the Power Sector Reforms; Challenges and Lessons for the Senior Staff Association

Members of the Association were seen in red handkerchief scarfed to their shirts; a local indication of sorrow and seriousness. The concerns of the senior staff apropos of the impending power reforms were comprehensibly stated by the chairman of the Association,

Among other things the chairman mentioned job security, transfer and relocations, fear of the unknown, service conditions, job satisfaction, career progression as their concerns of workers of the VRA when the restructuring is finally implemented

The Association is therefore challenging the bases of the reforms and grouses over the practices where the VRA is seen as easy prey and are always used as sacrificial lamb anytime there is power crisis in the country

A consultant at the Ministry of Power and Project coordinator, GEDAP Ing A.T Barfour also in a graphical overview of effects for restructuring process said "worldwide, as industry grows it becomes necessary to open up the hierarchy to create avenues for people to rise on the ladder. sometime we grow and it becomes necessary to rethink and collapse or merge similar job schedules"

Given indications a comparative capacities and types of generations of utilities by other power generating organizations, the coordinator contended there was not much to be gained in splitting VRA into thermal and hydro

He however, suggest that, for the purposes of commercial accountability, each Thermal Unit should have its own Power Purchase Agreement(PPA) with a credible Off-taker

Ing Bafour argued that in a proper working Wholesale Electricity Market(WEM) it will be Distributors who supply the Regulated market that may have approach the Regulator for the appropriate rate setting mechanism to accommodate all generating sources they have signed PPA with

He said the current Bulk Generating Tariff (BGT) where PURC sets a weighted average tariff for VRA for Thermal and Hydro Units was not proper and should be stopped

However he advised leadership of the Senior Staff Association to educate and inform the staff adequately to avoid unnecessary stresses and rumor mongering

He also reminded them of the Labor Law 2003, Act 651 sub section 62-65 which gives the necessary safeguards and protection "if the worst should happen and such reforms should up in job redundancies

The consultant concluded saying "lets work satisfactorily, efficiently, and effectively in our various job competencies and have strong believe in ourselves that no matter the situation, we shall be part of the New VRA Hydro or Thermal or whatever"

The Chief Executive Officer of VRA in his address congratulated the entire staff of the authority for winning the "best performance management award' in the HR group focus competition organized in October this year

The CEO after given some challenges and lessons that had been experienced in past restructuring exercise, he hopes the authority financial performance will turn around through financial re-engineering and other strategies.

He believed VRA shall go into the future as Ghana's number 1 electric power generating utility with non power value additions reflective of its history and based on astute and best business practices that will metamorphose VRA into a greater giant in corporate Africa

"Colleagues, there are storms in life.The VRA has gone through some storms in the past and we are going through some now. No matter what storm we face, we need to know that God has not abandoned us. Every storm, no matter hoe big and strong, passes eventually" VRA boss preached