So let’s say you are staying in a bed and breakfast establishment. You enter into an agreement with the owner for you to be provided with three square meals per day. You haggle over a price, and you settle down to reap the fruits of your arrangement.
Then imagine after a couple of years the owners come to you. They’re having some problems with getting ingredients to cook, so their ability to keep you fed around the clock has been compromised. There are problems acquiring grain, water shortages that make cooking all the time difficult, other issues.
In light of this, they announce they can only provide you with one square meal per day. Worse, you have to keep paying the same rate you used to pay for three square meals. You aren’t happy, but what can you do? You tune yourself towards surviving under this new arrangement.
But wait, there’s more! Now they come to you to tell you that you have to pay MORE, to continue enjoying one square meal per day. Now the issues causing the shortage haven’t been fixed, you have no idea when you are returning to three square meals- yet you have to pay MORE to enjoy the one square meal per day? Have you ever heard of anything so outrageous?
I’m pretty sure anyone in this situation would flip their sh*t, literally. If you’re Ghanaian or know anything about the phenomenon called ‘dumsor’, you’ve probably realised by now where I’m going with this long, seemingly pointless analogy.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), announced during the week increases to the tariffs Ghanaians pay for electricity and water. The exact percentages are 2.63% for electricity and 1.06% for water.
Now anyone not familiar with our situation would wonder why such minute increases should be a concern to anyone, but just consider the above analogy and tell me even a 0.5% increase would not enrage you.
The first question that came into mind on reading this news was that, for what services are we being made to pay more? A 12 hour on, 24 hour off electricity supply is not really much of a supply; and paying the same as you used to pay for constant supply is problematic enough without adding in the issue of an increase.
Same applies to water, which in most cases is even worse than the electricity supply. There are neighbourhoods in Accra that haven’t seen water in decades, and citizens are forced to survive on overpriced water tankers. As a victim of such activities myself, it seems almost criminal that I would soon have to be paying more when I’m already paying through the nose for this most basic of amenities.
This is why I have a problem with most media reporting the increase as marginal- marginal indeed! The issue isn’t how much is being placed on, but that ANYTHING is being placed on when the given service hardly merits paying the old tariffs anyway.
Which brings me to my point, the lack of agency of Ghanaians as a people. The lack of mercy on the part of our leaders is practically a dead goat (see what I did there?) by this point, an issue beaten to death by better writers and people than myself.
But the people, what do we have to say for ourselves? We have slumped into a state of stupor, it seems- hardship after hardship having beaten us into submission. The lack of public outcry over this decision speaks volumes, as at this point we are like kidnapped victims who have developed Stockholm syndrome; we actually don’t mind the abuse at this point.
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri wrote a great article on how citizen agency can effect change, so there’s no need for me to rehash old ground. The question now is when would we cease our endless yapping, get off our backsides and actually do something about it? I think we take this Ghana is a peaceful land nonsense too far, and it makes our leaders take advantage of us.
What we are, though, is a land of COWARDS.
Which is why this government would go through the rest of their term unscathed. All these hardships would dissipate at a point, for the simple reason that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Then in 2016 some people would vote for them, others for NPP, and a new government would probably come along to continue taking us the citizens for a ride.
Because as much as they up there have little mercy, they know us the citizens, have even less agency. Which is why this broken mess called Ghana would continue in this state for a long while to come- because when there’s no accountability man would naturally turn towards abuse of power.
It’s just how we are wired.