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16.03.2009 General News

No privatisation of water in Ghana-GWCL Boss assures

By Issah Alhassan, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle
No privatisation of water in Ghana-GWCL Boss assures

THE MANAGING Director (MD) of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Mr. Kwaku Botchwey, has once again deflated the assertion that the water supply system in the country has been privatised, describing the perception as abnormal and an extreme ideology, which is not applicable in the managerial sense.

According to him, the state continues to maintain sole ownership of the Ghana Water Company Limited, despite the management contract signed with the Dutch and South African firm, Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL).

According to him, the state continues to maintain sole ownership of the Ghana Water Company Limited, despite the management contract signed with the Dutch and South African firm, Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL).

The management of the Ghana Water Company Limited was in the region last Friday to interact with the media, and also throw more light on the first phase of the GH¢4,6000, 000 Urban Water expansion projects being undertaken by Top International Engineering in some parts of Kumasi and Obuasi, to rehabilitate and extend the distribution of the water system.

Answering a question from the media on the company's opinion, concerning calls by the Coalition Against the Privatization of Water in Ghana, a pressure group which is seeking the immediate abrogation of the contract between the GWCL and the Dutch firm, Mr. Botchwey said the assertion was a misconception, indicating there had been no change of ownership, neither had there been any change in the structure of the operations of the GWCL, ever since it entered into the agreement with Aqua Vitens Rand.

“To me, the argument that water is being privatized, is neither here nor there, because there have been no change in terms of equity and shareholding, there is a hundred per cent representation of Ghanaians at the board level,” he explained.

The GWCL Managing Director reiterated that the contract between the nation's water supplier and AVRL was a private sector participation (PSP) management contract, and not the privatisation of water.

In spite of what the contract said, and the several efforts on the part of AVRL to explain that the contract only mandated them to manage the urban water system to restore the financial stability of the water sector, and to assist GWCL to increase access to piped water, some critics, to date, continue to insist that AVRL's involvement in the water sector constituted privatisation.

The Ghana Water Company Limited entered into a management and performance contractual agreement in June 2006 with Vitens from Holland and Rand Water from South Africa, to assist the GWCL in the delivery of reliable water supply to consumers, but three years down the line, many Ghanaians still believe that not much has been done in the improvement of water supply in the country.

Mr. Botchwey, however, said the GWCL welcomed the criticisms from civil society groups such as the Coalition Against Privatization of Water in Ghana, and said it would continue to engage such associations and deliberate with them, on the need to ensure the smooth and reliable supply of water in the country.

He, however, denied that the company was not doing much in terms of ensuring regular supply of water to Ghanaians, saying the company was putting in much effort, but was being confronted by lack of logistics and infrastructural provisions.

Meanwhile, Head of Project Management Unit of the Company, Mr. Daniel Bamfo, has warned that Kumasi and its environs risk losing the continuous supply of water in the not too distant future, if the current state of encroachment and erection of structures on water bodies do not cease.

He says despite the strenuous efforts being put in place to ensure regular supply of water to residents in the region, it was hampered by the activities of individuals who continue to build on water bodies, and continuously cut down trees, thereby depleting small streams and rivers of green cover, which serve as a source of oxygen supply.

Such activities, according to him, were having a heavy toll on the Barekese and Owabi dams, which serve as the main sources of water supply in the region.

The two dams are supposed to produce 21 million gallons of water a day for the supply of residents in the region, but the supply of water has not been regular, as a result of ongoing expansion and rehabilitation works currently being undertaken at the two dam sites.

The projects, which would be completed by the end of the year, would raise daily supply to the region to about 27 million gallons, and would last till 2010.

The scope of works in Obuasi would cover 15,705m length of distribution lines in newly developed areas such as Brahabebome, Akaporiso, Bediem, Gausu, Bogobri, Nyamebekyere and Industrial link.

The capacity of works in Kumasi, on the other hand, covers two main trunk lines, which are expected to serve considerable parts of the center of the town.

These include 400, 300, and 200mm lines from Abrepo Junction, through Sofoline and continuing to Brofoyedru, Airport roundabout to Kenyase, Santase to Atasomanso and Edwenase to Police Depot at Patase through Kwadaso.

The rest include Fankyenebra through Apere to Edwenase, Buokrom through to Asabi to Aboabo Junction, and Tafo through Pankrono via Mampong road.

According to the company, all the pipelines laid took into consideration future expansion of roads, electricity and telecommunication lines, and would bring potable water to over 40,000 and 120,000 people in Obuasi and Kumasi respectively.

Mr. Bamfo further disclosed that the second phase of the project, which is expected to cost about US$70 million, would involve the construction of about 26 water supply systems in areas such as Agona and Mampong.

Managing Director Kwaku Botchwey lamented on the continuous encroachment of water lands by individuals in demand of compensations, and said the situation was posing a serious danger to the activities of the company.

He disclosed that the company had paid over GH¢300,000 as compensation, for people in the catchment areas, which according to him, has had a serious toll on the financial position of the company.

Mr. Botchwey therefore reiterated the call for the government to allow the company to introduce a line item in the tariff structure, to cater for compensation.