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28.05.2004 General News

Coalition Against Water criticises Government's initiative

By GNA

Accra, May 28, GNA - The National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water (NCAP) on Thursday criticised Government's initiative to obtain consensus for the adoption of the water privatisation policy claiming, "the consultations do not reflect the total view of the public".

The Coalition argued that the consultation exercise that took place in Tamale for the three Northern Regions failed to involve the views of those in the Upper East and Upper West Regions, since there were no invitations for participation to those areas.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Rudolf Amenga-Etego, Coordinator of NCAP, challenged the Government to come out with the reasons for opening bidding for water privatisation while it had not come out with an acceptable water policy.

He said the whole idea of privatising water was unacceptable since that would only constitute the "application of market principles to water distribution. This means the market will now determine the price of water which majority of Ghanaians cannot afford".

He described water issues as a global security problem and, therefore, privatising Ghana's water would mean opening "our security boundaries for investor exploitation".

Mr Amenga-Etego also cautioned authorities to be careful about the way water sources were being licensed to companies to produce mineral water.

He said most of Ghana's fresh water sources were dwindling and that posed a major threat to water security for the people. He, therefore, advised that the tap water being produced and distributed by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) should be treated to the highest quality for it to be conveniently acceptable to Ghanaians instead of the "so-called mineral water".

"Ghana's water is being messed up and we must all wake up to the realities to protect our water bodies", Mr Amenga-Etego warned. Reacting to the issues raised by Mr Amenga-Etego, Mr S.G.O. Lamptey, Acting Managing Director of GWCL, told the Ghana News Agency that the Government was not going to privatise water supply but rather there was going to be a Private Sector Participation (PSP).

He explained that unlike privatisation where the assets were sold to the investor in this instance the Government of Ghana would continue to own the assets through the GWCL while the Operator is expected to produce, transmit, distribute, maintain the assets and collect revenue. Mr Lamptey said the meeting at Tamale was on the Draft of Ghana's Water Supply Policy and not on the PSP. He said similar workshops on the Policy had been held in Kumasi and Accra.

On the pricing of water, Mr Lamptey said the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) would continue to determine water tariffs and not the Operator.

He said the main objective of the PSP was make water available to the poor at affordable prices since the present situation made them to pay higher prices for the commodity. "It is cheaper for people who get their water direct from GWCL than those who had to rely on private water vendors and PSP is to ensure that the poor get connected."

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