General News of 2014-01-16

Prepaid water project, a wrong priority for GWC - IMANI

Policy think-tank, IMANI says the prepaid water project intended to be introduced in the country is a wrong priority for the Ghana Water Company (GWC).

The civil society group noted that the biggest problem facing the water company is not reduction in losses but rather the lack of investment and management of water resources.

Speaking to the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Thursday, the Vice president of IMANI, Kofi Bentil said there is the need to take a serious look at introducing project management and engineering management skills to help increase the volume of water needed by consumers.

According to him, the current distribution systems are insufficient and dilapidated as real work is needed to be done in those areas to fix the problems of inadequate water supply to consumers.

Mr. Bentil further pointed out that if GWC focuses too much on prepaid metering and billing, leaving out supply and distribution of the commodity, the country may succeed in billing, using prepaid meters but fail in dealing with the water problems.

The Vice president of IMANI was reacting to Ghana Water Company’s announced proposal to make water a prepaid utility just like electricity. The project is expected to be piloted this year.

IMANI is the second civil society group to kick against the proposal. The first was the Integrated Social Development Center, which warned water will not be accessible to the poor if the project goes ahead.

There are sketchy details about how the project will be carried out as the Ghana Water Company has not spoken since the announcement.

The body mandated to regulate utility companies, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has hailed Ghana Water Company’s announced proposal to make water a prepaid utility.

If this proposal is implemented, consumers will have to first pay before water flows through their taps.

Speaking to JoyNews, the PURC director of public affairs, Nana Yaa Jantuah said the proposal is a positive intervention that will reduce losses in the system.

"It is a very positive move. it is very laudable because this intervention is going to reduce the commercial losses especially with the illegal connection", PURC public affairs director indicated.

According to her, the Commission is expecting that the system will be transparent.

"What the PURC is concerned about is to see that water is not rationed in an erratic manner. Even if it would be rationed, it should be done in such a way that the rationing programme is published and consumers know when they will get water through their taps" Nana Yaa Jantuah stressed.

She therefore noted that if the prepaid metering is able to reduce their losses to the barest minimum from the current loss of 15% the company will make some money and be able to expand the system and make water sufficiently available to consumers.