Trading activities in the Kejetia Market, a significant commercial hub in the Ashanti Regional capital, have been disrupted for over a week due to a power outage.
The market owes the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) 5.4 million cedis in unpaid bills. Vendors selling perishable goods have been particularly affected since the power supply was cut off on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
The market managers argue that traders have not paid for the electricity, which hinders them from settling the outstanding debt with the ECG.
However, the traders claim that they have consistently paid their monthly dues to the market facility managers.
“After the disconnection, leadership of the traders confronted management on why we are being disconnected from the national grid. We are at a loss as to how and why the debt is so huge because every month, the management gives traders bills to pay. We have been paying the bills. But the management says otherwise,” Eric Nana Kwasi Prempeh, Chairman of the Federation of Kumasi Traders revealed.
Days after the blackout, a generator set at the facility was powered to serve as an alternative.
This was however unsustainable as the traders feared the cost of fuel would be passed on to them.
The traders are now resorting to the use of flashlights for their activities at night.
Butchery and cold store operators at the market are the worst affected, as their goods are being damaged.
A cold store operator, Ataa Papa said “For about 3 days now, my fresh meat has been going bad. They assured us of a re-connection, so we left our meat here. The next day, the lights were still off. All our meat have gone bad. It is really affecting us.”
“I sometimes tie a flashlight on my forehead, or hang it on a pole. That is not a bother. Our worry is that our meat is going bad. We have taken loans from rural banks. We buy cattle and slaughter to sell, but the blackout is making our meat get rotten. We are forced to sell our meat cheaply,”another lamented.
Others say thieves have taken advantage of the blackout to steal from traders, whereas some patrons of the market are outwitting traders with fake currencies.
“Some customers have been bringing counterfeits, because it is dark here. A counterfeit 20 cedis note was given to me last week. Traders have to be vigilant so they do not fall victim,” Theresa Boakye said.
“I just got here from Accra. This place is dark. The thieves are taking advantage of the darkness to steal. They spy on you as do your transactions” another trader said.
Trade unions at the market have asked for the speedy installation of individual meters by the Electricity Company of Ghana.