On November 23, 2016, http://citifmonline.com/ published a news article on comments made by a water and sanitation expert, Patrick Apoya following opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) claim that the then NDC government, through the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), was spending about GHc30 million on some 500 boreholes in the country coming to about GHc 60,000 per borehole.
“Government should be spending between GHc 25,000 and GHc 30,000 on its mechanized borehole construction, and not the estimated GHc 60,000 per borehole, a water and sanitation expert, Patrick Apoya, has said”.
The water and sanitation expert categorized the boreholes into 3 types namely; borehole fitted with hand pumps, mechanized boreholes and limited-mechanized boreholes. In discussing further on the prospective costs for the various categories, the following were the cost analysis he made;
- The borehole fitted with hand pumps was between GHc15,000 to GHc12,000 depending on which part of the country. And the cost includes geophysics, drilling, development, water quality test and the installation of the hand pump.
- The mechanized boreholes were going for GHc 25,000 to GHc 30,000. The cost includes geophysics, drilling, development, water quality test and the installation of the hand pump. Also, if the tap is to be fixed in one location, known as the limited mechanized system, you just put a tower, put a tank (about 10,000 litres) and drop a pipe or two pipes.
If government expand this PURC’s boreholes intervention project to fight water shortages in this COVID-19 pandemic, its determination to increase accessibility to water would be achieved and sustained, even in the post-pandemic era. And this will equally help alleviate the acute perennial water shortage in the country, whilst government gets back its production cost within shortest possible time.
Government is applauded in making water free to its citizens as the most important social determinant of health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is bold social intervention and we ask for more, but to what extent could the government go if the pandemic persists much longer? Government is willing, but the sustainability of such free-water-supply intervention project could face acute challenges as a low-income country if the pandemic takes much longer than public health experts projects. However, Ghana has a more sustainable intervention, the PURC mechanized boreholes project that has been in existence in the pre-corona pandemic period. All that it needs now is aggressive expansion to cover nationwide, especially those areas that do not benefit from Ghana Water Supply.
Pipe-born water is limited to only some parts in the cities. For decades, Ghana Water Supply have not laid any new pipelines to the newly built-up areas even in the cities, where their services are more robust. This means majority of Ghanaians do not even benefit from government’s free water supply intervention. To make water abundantly available to all, the PURC mechanized boreholes project can be sold to all houseowners who can afford it and be made to pay for it in installments as would be stipulated by the government. For instance, 4 and 6 evenly divided installments within 24 or 48 months be made available to house owners who can afford it. A grace period of a month to 3 months till the first installment could also be made available within which period the beneficiaries could provide water freely to their neighbors. Hopefully, the perennial water shortage problems in the country would be considerably alleviated by the time the pandemic pass and the government would plough back its production cost within 5 years.
Eben Johnson - Finland
(Letters Without Signatures)