IN his Sessional Address, President J. A. Kufuor was bold enough to cite the "improvement" of the utility services, especially those of electricity and water supplies, as one of the major achievements of the Government. The marines are in ... and he must tell them tales.
Rather, the services of these two organizations have become poorer and poorer, in recent times, that one wonders whether there is even a deliberate attempt to create an impression of unreliability, as a result of its state-control. In the case of water, for instance, there are clear indications of the Government's commitment to an external advice to privatize the service.
And, the only way of justifying the sale and control of this vital and sensitive service to private (European) han! ds, is what we are witnessing now. In some places, the flow of water in the taps is becoming a seasonal affair. And, despite the numerous promises to improve the situation, there is nothing on the ground to back the promises. They are empty.
In the districts, it is becoming fashionable, for water to cease to flow at the weekends, when many consumers need the commodity most, for washing and general cleaning.
In cases, where nothing flows, many are those, who are compelled to undergo "dry-cleaning", instead of having, at least, a shower a day. The consequences of denying the body its fresh-cleaning, especially in these days, when the weather is comparatively warm during the day can well be imagined — sweat mixed with dust on the body.
Any wonder some people are developing cracked crocodile-like skins in recent times.
In other places, the price of water now competes with the daily expenses on food.
Worse still is the case of citizens in many towns, who now pass by the in-operative and dead stand-pipes, as they head for almost dried-up streams, where they scoop anything liquid, regardless of its colour-scare.
And with all this, bills handed down to consumers, lucky enough to be receiving intermittent supplies, can draw tears, higher than the cost of water on the Sahara Desert!
This is what President Kufuor refers to as an improvement and thus calling for public applause.
The problem with electricity supply is becoming even more mystical.
For, apart from the few instances, where the authorities alert consumers about an impending outage for a general maintenance exercise, those which "go off", on their own, without any advanced notice, has become almost a regular feature. Imagine cases in industrial areas, where power "ceases to function", during the day, resurrects late in the night, only for the machines to go dead at dawn again, like a routine, being also cited as facilities conducive for industrial investment.
In short, there have been two demonstration of the level of efficiency of the electricity service in recent times, which caused no little embarrassment to the President, our Ministers and Parliamentarians.
The first case occurred when Parliament "faded to black", during a sitting. For almost five minutes, people were kicking tables and chairs, as MPs found their way out, to enjoy fresh air.
Then, only last Tuesday, a whole People's Assembly, in Cape Coast, with the President in attendance, had to suffer a power outage, which marred the whole function.
The incident virtually tolled the closing bell, for the Assembly, as the audience, some of whom were dozing out of boredom, felt it was all well and good for the President to have a taste of what is becoming a common practice in the municipality, especially at the weekends, an act which tends to ruin many functions, including funerals.
The performance of the utility services, the President must be made aware is sinking fast. And the event at Cape Coast, at least, is an indication of what is happening on the ground.