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24.03.2009 General News

Abrogate Acqua Vitens contract -NGO

By Charles Takyi-Baodu - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Essential Services Platform (ESP), a non governmental organisation has called on the government to abrogate the management contract she signed with Messrs. Acqua Vitens Rand Limited to manage the water system in the country.

In a statement issued and signed by Ruby Kissiedu, the organisation attributed the drop in urban water coverage from 70% in the year 2000 to 57% presently, to the failure of the urban water reforms and especially to the management contract being executed by the company, and therefore, asked government to take steps to show them the exit.

The group has also called on government to review the procurement processes and make it transparent and open to public participation and scrutiny.

This is in view of the fact that procurement in the water sector has been one of the conduits for the supply of sub-standard services and also a fertile ground for bribery and corruption, which compounds the water crisis.

Though the recent budget statement presented to Parliament gave indication of government's commitment to expand and repair a number of water systems, the group has demanded to see some actual figures to spend on these projects and not mere rhetorics.

Rural water has seen a marginal increase but not significant enough to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015. Government has also been asked to tackle the sanitation problems and national issues and seal all leakages in the contract and execution of all sanitation contracts in the sector.

“We are reminding the government of its campaign promise to allot GH¢30 million to the sanitation sector,” the statement emphasised.

This it said, was because the sanitation is not a political cake to be shared among party faithfuls, saying “it is our hope that this time round, government will desist from giving sanitation contracts to unqualified individuals and companies and make the sector a professional one.”

Whilst asking government to achieve at least 65% of the targeted borehole construction in the four years of its governance, the group also reminded them of its 100-day sanitation pledge.

On the issue of health, The Essential Services Platform noted that even though government has pledged to expand midwifery and nursing training institutions; deploy qualified nurses and midwives; improve comprehensive abortion care services and the provision of treated mosquito nets for pregnant women and new mothers are important strategic initiatives there was still need for government to ensure that quality training standards were applied in these institutions in line with the expansion exercise.

This, it said, has the possibility of averting the situation of falling standards and to maintain high level discipline and dedication to service the sector, to help reduce the high rate of avoidable maternal deaths in line with the achievement of the fifth target on the MDGs.

Whilst commending the government's pledge to improve claims management under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the group noted that looking at the critical nature of health delivery in the country, there was the need for government to expedite action on it.

“It is of utmost importance that government incorporates anti retroviral drugs into the list of drugs provided under the NHIS to lessen the burden on HIV patients”, it stressed.

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