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22.08.2002 General News

P.S.P. Proposal is Not the Optimal Option" -Expert

By Accra Mail
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Now that the voices against private sector participation (PSP) in urban water supply are growing louder with the international fact-finding mission (FFM) on water sector reforms coming up with the above position [title] on PSP, the government ought to take heed of these voices and open the sector up for professional examination of the problems in the supply industry.

Some of us with knowledge and experience in the water supply industry have been very disturbed by the stealthy way the PSP program is being rammed down the throat of Ghanaians by the unseen hands of the World Bank and the IMF.

What is more disturbing is the fact that for the past five or six successive times, non-professionals in the water supply or building and construction industry have headed the Ministry of Works and Housing as the ministers. This has definitely made it easier for outsiders especially World Bank/IMF to bamboozle them with cheap arguments using all sorts of baits to get them to fall in line.

The present crop of technical men and professionals at the Ministry are scared to the bone about allowing the Minister to hear the views of some professionals outside the Ministry, for whatever reason.

The absence of land-use planning regulations and procedures in the country is a serious set back for efficient water supply delivery. But the issue of land-use planning does not even feature in the Water Sector Restructuring Secretariat's (WSRS) deliberations. The resultant indiscipline in the urban development process in the country makes the argument for PSP programme frivolous and untenable, unless perhaps we want to accept mediocre standards of poor water distribution networks, lack of access to water in many homes and permanent water rationing in our urban centres as the benchmark in this country.

The separation of water and sanitation services in the country, ie.. the decoupling of sewerage from water supply with the establishment of Ghana Water Company, is a dear indication that the current crop of planners and policy makers have opted for inferior living standards for our urban dwellers, with the full support of the PURC. (See this column last week Thursday.) This is captured in the FFM's report. It said, "the separation of water and sanitation services reduces opportunities to address public health problems".

The FFM has done a great service to this nation. But according to them they did not have enough time to come out with better alternatives. It is therefore up to the government to appoint consultants immediately to re-examine the problem and advice the government accordingly. The WSRS has so far behaved as a propaganda machinery for whoever, we do not know.

Unless government is bent on losing faith with the people over urban water supply, it should heed the advice contained in the FFM report.

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