Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Things Done in Accra When You're Dead...


Sometimes, when darkness falls, and the lights go off in parts of Accra, it is as if you're dead...to the world.

Even when you have alternative arrangements to obtaining power, the point is not lost on you on the astronomical amounts you expend to get your fridge and other electrical gadgets working through a generator.

Last Friday night at 23h30, the electricity went off our place and the next-door neighbour's. I know because when I went for a walk with Fenix, the houses on the lane--bar ours--had their lights on. A few houses on other lanes on the Estate had the generator running, so we could tell they were off.

That evening, I called the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) on 021.611.611. They call it a hotline, but I would prefer a hotline that's free, thankyou!

Anyways, I got the usual Welcome to the ECG Hotline. Please hold for a service operator.

Within minutes, a young lad was behind the line asking me key questions about the time the electricity went off; the location of the query; and my name. All was explained, and he accordingly commiserated with me, apologising for the electricity having gone off, but they would work "as quickly" as they could to restore it, but they would have to register the case in their database and forward it to an engineer.

Thanks were exchanged and I went off, slightly assured.

I woke up Saturday morning to beads of sweat dripping down my face, for the electricity had not come back.

A quick call much later in the day, around midday, revealed that ECG had dispatched the engineer around 8.30am, and he was doing his rounds.

I was assured "by the end of the day", we would have our power.

The end of the day--read 6, 7, 8, 9 pm--came. There was still no electricity.

A frustrated yours truly called yet again expressing veiled anger and disappointment at the promises offered. Entreaties and commiserations were expressed by the hot line staff, pleading with me to hold on, and that they were working on it "seriously" for us.

"Look," I went on "is it because it has not affected the whole Estate that a good 24 hours, I would have to call to have someone check my electricity? What is going on? Is it because it is a holiday that the workers have also gone on holiday?"

The same supplication-apology-assurance formula followed true to form, and I subsequently calmed down.

The next day, I was at boiling point; if a thermometer had been by me, it might have exploded!

A poor lady got the end of my wrath, expressed through more harsh and stronger words than the above for some fifteen minutes. I eventually calmed down, and thanked her for understanding the urgency of my request, appealing almost to her that almost 36 hours of electricity was totally unacceptable.

An hour or two later, I spotted a van with workmen in blue overalls cruising surreptitiously down the lane. I informed the folks that I suspect ECG were only now attending to the problem.

On a bloody Sunday! And 36 hours later?

We all shrugged, chuckled, and silently hoped that Sunday would be the last night without electricity.

A couple of hours later, the electricity was restored.

I cannot say I had a relaxing Mayday celebration. Frankly, it sucked. There is precious little one can do without electricity.

It truly is like you're dead...to the world.
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