15.09.2004 General News

Reject water privatisation- NCAP

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Accra, Sept. 15, GNA - Tempers rose at the Conference Hall of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Accra on Wednesday at a workers forum to discuss the privatisation of water in Ghana. Speakers from the TUC and the National Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water (NCAP) in Ghana furiously rejected claims from Mr Enimil Ashong, the Communication Consultant of the Urban Water Project, that Government was not privatising Ghana's water.

In very emotional language, they contended that the change from lease of water delivery to management contract was nothing more than a form of privatisation and called on the Ghanaian workforce to mobilise and reject any attempt to privatise Ghana's water. Mr Ashong who attended the meeting uninvited, had challenged the point that there was lack of transparency and consultation with stakeholders before moves began to reform the water sector. He said stakeholders had been invited to a meeting in 1996 at the Novotel Hotel for a discussion but Mr Rudolf Amenya Etego, Campaign Director of the NCAP, pointed out that as many as 36 of the attendants to that meeting had been from the Donor Community, adding that the result of that meeting was doubtful.

Mr Etego dwelt on a statement from Mr Ashong that Ghana had some of the best water engineers in the world and wondered why Ghanaian engineers were not offered the investment in the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, but rather foreigners. He said water was a basis of life, a basic human right, a strategic national asset and a security issue and added that it did not require privatisation to put it on track if corruption and mismanagement were its bane for efficient performance. "Should we privatise our government if it were inefficient?" Mr Etego asked? He said the demand driven policy and the profit of private investment in water had negatively affected the supply of potable water in the Northern Sector of the country with the record that globally, Ghana had the highest guinea worm infection rate after Sudan.

Mr Seth Abloso from the TUC, who cited failure stories from a number of countries including Bolivia, Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, South Africa said government had to look for other alternatives in ensuring efficient water service delivery rather than privatisation. Mr Ashong in his statement said the Ghana Water Company Limited produced 120 million gallons of water daily, but 50 of it was lost mainly through leakages. He said 92 millions of the 120 million dollars provided by the International Development Association, the Nordic Development Fund and the Ghana Government would be use to start in November, a replacement of old pipelines and expand the network in underserved urban centres.

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