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19.01.2006 General News

Pollution of rivers cause high tarrifs


Kumasi, Jan. 19, GNA - Pollution of rivers and water bodies has been identified as one of the major contributory factor to the high water tariffs being paid by consumers, Mr Kwame Pianim, Chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has said.

"This is because about 12 per cent of the total cost of water generation and distribution is used to purchase chemicals to treat water before distribution to consumers".

Mr Pianim said Ghanaians could cut down the cost of generating water if they refrained from polluting rivers and other water bodies. He was speaking at a public consultative forum towards improved utility services in Kumasi on Thursday.

The forum, which was organized by the PURC was to assess the performance of the utility companies, their operational environment, identify factors that militate against their capacity to provide adequate and reliable services and also seek the concerns of the public as consumers and how to improve service delivery.

Mr Pianim said many river and water bodies were drying up due to pollution and appealed to members of the public to change their attitude towards maintaining the environment.

He also identified poor urban planning, illegal connections and non-payment of bills as some of the challenges hindering quality service delivery by the utility providers.

Mr Pianim said the public fora, which were being organized in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale were to seek the concerns of the public and review with the companies, how to invest to reduce system losses to acceptable levels.

Mr Andrew Quayson, Chairman of the Technical Committee of the PURC, said for Ghana to achieve accelerated growth rate of eight per cent as against the current five per cent, there was the need for a reliable, cost effective and adequate infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity.

He said it was im portant for the country to invest and improve the quality of service to end-users.

Mr Quayson said most of the infrastructure of the utility companies were aged and overloaded leading to poor quality service, while majority of Ghanaians were also denied assess to them. He called for effective measures to restore the infrastructure base of the nation instead of ad-hoc approaches, which often compounded the problem.

The representatives of the utility companies, which included the Volta River Authority (VRA), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) mentioned some of the challenges militating against their ability to produce to capacity. Some of these were overloaded and aged transmission lines and pipes, illegal connection; non-payment of economic tariffs as well inefficiencies in the billing and collections systems.

They also enumerated some of the measures put in place to address the problems. Some of these were the installation and expansion of generation and transmission equipment, introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in their operations as well as effective internal control systems to reduce leakages and thefts. Some of the concerns raised by the public included improper billing and the lack of adequate and reliable supply and appealed to the service providers to address some of these issues before any increases in tariffs. 19 Jan. 06