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27.03.2008 General News

About Two Billion Dollars Needed For Water Sector - Minister

By GNA
Ghana needs about two billion dollars to enable her to provide adequate water supply nationwide, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing said yesterday.
    
Launching a guideline document that mandates water tanker operators to ensure that consumers get improved service delivery in Accra, Alhaji Boniface said the requirement followed feasibility studies recently carried out on how to solve the perennial water problems confronting the country.
    
The tanker guidelines prepared by the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) is to address issues concerning various stakeholders in the water tanker services delivery and also assist in the development of a competitive market in the supply of water by tankers to end users.
    
Alhaji Boniface noted that though government had been doing a lot to address the water situation, a lot more was needed to be done through the support of the public by helping to detect and report illegal connections, burst water pipes and preserving water bodies.
    
He said government, through Parliament recently approved a 75 million-dollar loan to help provide water for parts of northern and southern parts of the country, particularly in parts of Greater Accra and Eastern regions.
    
He said concerns had always been raised over the quality of water as well as the personal hygiene of tanker operators so the introduction of guidelines would ensure the safety of water provided to consumers by the tanker operators in helping to meet the supply of the commodity to the ever-increasing population.
    
Mr Andrew Quayson, Commissioner, PURC, said only 10 to 13 per cent of low income earners were connected to the national water system, giving way for many people to rely on water tanker systems.
    
The Commission, he said, was therefore, compelled to design the guidelines that placed responsibilities on the PURC, the service providers, the Tanker Operator Associations (TOA) and the tanker owners so that they would ensure, among others, that consumers were protected by having access to potable and affordable water tanker services.
    
Mr Stephen N. Adu, Executive Secretary, PURC, explained that the Commission issued the guidelines in pursuance of the PURC Act 1997, Act 538, to ensure that consumers were not exploited in the services of such an essential commodity.      
    
Commander Charles Osafo Addo (Rtd), Chairman, Private Water Tanker Owners Association, on behalf of members accepted and approved the guidelines, which he said, could be implemented alongside that of the Association.
    
He, however, appealed to the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to consider charging members domestic rates instead of the commercial rates to enable them to also to sell water at affordable prices to consumers.
    
Commander Osafo Addo also asked that all unapproved water hydrants should be closed to deter unscrupulous people from accessing water from unhygienic sources.
    
Giving highlights of the guidelines, Mr Nii Okai Kotei, Director of Water, PURC, listed the main issues as registration and licensing of tanker operators, ensuring that operators fill tankers at controlled filling points, tariffs charged by GWCL and operators, competition, water quality monitoring and penalties for failure to meet standards.

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