Veteran journalist Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako has described the conflict between Ghana Water Company Limited and their IT service provider SOFTtribe as needless negative publicity.
According to him, the back and forth between the two companies and the intervention of the National Security Council was untidy and avoidable.
Speaking on Newsfile, Saturday, Kwaku Baako said that the negative publicity was “detrimental to the reputation of the company SOFTtribe and the image of National security and to some limited extent the Ghana Water Company.”
GWCL and SOFTtribe a Ghanaian owned software company have been in the news after the latter accused the former of unfairly terminating their contract.
The two companies co-own a water billing software that helps GWCL service its customers. SOFTtribe has accused the National Security of illegally invading its offices under the directive of the GWCL.
Mobile phones of SOFTtribe employees were seized by the National Security and one worker, according to Technical Director of SOFTtribe, David Kwamena Bolton, was detained “and taken to the Ghana Water Company head office.”
This action, according to the Founder of the company, Herman Chinery-Hesse, comes after alleged attempts to extort money from the IT company by persons at GWCL.
Mr Chinery-Hesse said he suspects that evidence of the extortion (which were on the mobile phones but have been securely backed up) was the reason National Security operatives swooped his firm's Airport Residential office and seized phones .
However, Managing Director of Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Dr Clifford Abdallah Braimah, j ustified the decision to terminate the billing system contract with the IT firm, citing a sharp dip in the utility company’s revenue as one of the key reasons.
Addressing the press at the GWCL’s head office in Accra on Thursday, Dr Braimah alleged that the water billing system developed problems that SOFTtribed seemed unable to solve despite giving the renowned IT company time to resolve.
The four main problems that were impeding GWCL’s operations, according to Dr Braimah included: inconsistency between the balance on statement of account of customers and their water bills. He said this made it difficult to handle customers’ queries.
Another problem, according to the GWCL’s MD, is that that the software, which was installed in 2016, by 2018 had started billing customers with wrong tariffs; also the e-readers were not functioning.
All these problems also made it impossible for the GWCL to monitor the entire billing process.
Meanwhile, Baako believes if both parties had remained “sober and dispassionate”, they could have come to an amicable end instead of airing their differences to the public.
“It is because of their relationship that is why I said it is needles. There was a rapport and there was a chain of communication,” he told Samson Lardi Anyenini, host of the show.
He stated that he, however, does not blame SOFTtribe for taking the steps to ensure their side of the story has been heard.
“They were provoked; pushed into the corner and they talked. I wasn't too convinced about what the GWVL said at the press conference,” he added.
Kwaku Baako added that he suspects somebody within the national security might have gotten too over-enthusiastic 'and pulled the trigger.'
“That is what my worry is,” he said.
He stated that there might be a problem in the chain of command at the National security which has affected their actions.
He advised government to take a critical look at the National Security's chain of command and make changes as suggested by the Emile Short Commission that looked into the violence that ensued during the Ayawaso Wuogon by-election.
This chain, he stated, would identify “who does what and where."